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Title: Essays

Author: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Editor: Edna H. L. Turpin

Release Date: September 4, 2005 [EBook #16643]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Curtis A. Weyant , Sankar Viswanathan and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at



                          RALPH WALDO EMERSON

                        Merrill's English Texts


                               NEW YORK

                        CHARLES E. MERRILL CO.

















Merrill's English Texts

This series of books will include in complete editions those
masterpieces of English Literature that are best adapted for the use
of schools and colleges. The editors of the several volumes will be
chosen for their special qualifications in connection with the texts
to be issued under their individual supervision, but familiarity with
the practical needs of the classroom, no less than sound scholarship,
will characterize the editing of every book in the series.

In connection with each text, a critical and historical introduction,
including a sketch of the life of the author and his relation to the
thought of his time, critical opinions of the work in question chosen
from the great body of English criticism, and, where possible, a
portrait of the author, will be given. Ample explanatory notes of such
passages in the text as call for special attention will be supplied,
but irrelevant annotation and explanations of the obvious will be
rigidly excluded.



Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, May 25, 1803. He was descended
from a long line of New England ministers, men of refinement and
education. As a school-boy he was quiet and retiring, reading a great
deal, but not paying much attention to his lessons. He entered Harvard
at the early age of fourteen, but never attained a high rank there,
although he took a prize for an essay on Socrates, and was made class
poet after several others had declined. Next to his reserve and the
faultless propriety of his conduct, his contemporaries at college
seemed most impressed by the great maturity of his mind. Emerson
appears never to have been really a boy. He was always serene and
thoughtful, impressing all who knew him with that spirituality which
was his most distinguishing characteristic.

After graduating from college he taught school for a time, and then
entered the Harvard Divinity School under Dr. Channing, the great
Unitarian preacher. Although he was not strong enough to attend all
the lectures of the divinity course, the college authorities deemed
the name Emerson sufficient passport to the ministry. He was
accordingly "approbated to preach" by the Middlesex Association of
Ministers on October 10, 1826. As a preacher, Emerson was interesting,
though not particularly original. His talent seems to have been in
giving new meaning to the old truths of religion. One of his hearers
has said: "In looking back on his preaching I find he has impressed
truths to which I always assented in such a manner as to make them
appear new, like a clearer revelation." Although his sermons were
always couched in scriptural language, they were touched with the
light of that genius which avoids the conventional and commonplace. In
his other pastoral duties Emerson was not quite so successful. It is
characteristic of his deep humanity and his dislike for all fuss and
commonplace that he appeared to least advantage at a funeral. A
connoisseur in such matters, an old sexton, once remarked that on such
occasions "he did not appear at ease at all. To tell the truth, in my
opinion, that young man was not born to be a minister."

Emerson did not long remain a minister. In 1832 he preached a sermon
in which he announced certain views in regard to the communion service
which were disapproved by a large part of his congregation. He found
it impossible to continue preaching, and, with the most friendly
feelings on both sides, he parted from his congregation.

A few months later (1833) he went to Europe for a short year of
travel. While abroad, he visited Walter Savage Landor, Coleridge and
Wordsworth, and Thomas Carlyle. This visit to Carlyle was to both men
a most interesting experience. They parted feeling that they had much
intellectually in common. This belief fostered a sympathy which, by
the time they had discovered how different they really were, had grown
so strong a habit that they always kept up their intimacy. This year
of travel opened Emerson's eyes to many things of which he had
previously been ignorant; he had profited by detachment from the
concerns of a limited community and an isolated church.

After his return he began to find his true field of activity in the
lecture-hall, and delivered a number of addresses in Boston and its
vicinity. While thus coming before the open public on the lecture
platform, he was all the time preparing the treatise which was to
embody all the quintessential elements of his philosophical doctrine.
This was the essay _Nature_, which was published in 1836. By its
conception of external Nature as an incarnation of the Divine Mind it
struck the fundamental principle of Emerson's religious belief. The
essay had a very small circulation at first, though later it became
widely known.

In the winter of 1836 Emerson followed up his discourse on Nature by a
course of twelve lectures on the "Philosophy of History," a
considerable portion of which eventually became embodied in his
essays. The next year (1837) was the year of the delivery of the _Man
Thinking, or the American Scholar_ address before the Phi Beta Kappa
Society at Cambridge.

This society, composed of the first twenty-five men in each class
graduating from college, has annual meetings which have called forth
the best efforts of many distinguished scholars and thinkers.
Emerson's address was listened to with the most profound interest. It
declared a sort of intellectual independence for America. Henceforth
we were to be emancipated from clogging foreign influences, and a
national literature was to expand under the fostering care of the

These two discourses, _Nature_ and _The American Scholar_, strike the
keynote of Emerson's philosophical, poetical, and moral teachings. In
fact he had, as every great teacher has, only a limited number of
principles and theories to teach. These principles of life can all be
enumerated in twenty words--self-reliance, culture, intellectual and
moral independence, the divinity of nature and man, the necessity of
labor, and high ideals.

Emerson spent the latter part of his life in lecturing and in literary
work. His son, Dr. Edward Emerson, gave an interesting account of how
these lectures were constructed. "All through his life he kept a
journal. This book, he said, was his 'Savings Bank.' The thoughts thus
received and garnered in his journals were indexed, and a great many
of them appeared in his published works. They were religiously set
down just as they came, in no order except chronological, but later
they were grouped, enlarged or pruned, illustrated, worked into a
lecture or discourse, and, after having in this capacity undergone
repeated testing and rearranging, were finally carefully sifted and
more rigidly pruned, and were printed as essays."

Besides his essays and lectures Emerson left some poetry in which is
embodied those thoughts which were to him too deep for prose
expression. Oliver Wendell Holmes in speaking of this says: "Emerson
wrote occasionally in verse from his school-days until he had reached
the age which used to be known as the grand climacteric,
sixty-three.... His poems are not and hardly can become popular; they
are not meant to be liked by the many, but to be dearly loved and
cherished by the few.... His occasional lawlessness in technical
construction, his somewhat fantastic expressions, his enigmatic
obscurities hardly detract from the pleasant surprise his verses so
often bring with them.... The poetic license which we allow in the
verse of Emerson is more than excused by the noble spirit which makes
us forget its occasional blemishes, sometimes to be pleased with them
as characteristic of the writer."

Emerson was always a striking figure in the intellectual life of
America. His discourses were above all things inspiring. Through them
many were induced to strive for a higher self-culture. His influence
can be discerned in all the literary movements of the time. He was the
central figure of the so-called transcendental school which was so
prominent fifty years ago, although he always rather held aloof from
any enthusiastic participation in the movement.

Emerson lived a quiet life in Concord, Massachusetts. "He was a
first-rate neighbor and one who always kept his fences up." He
traveled extensively on his lecturing tours, even going as far as
England. In _English Traits_ he has recorded his impressions of what
he saw of English life and manners.

Oliver Wendell Holmes has described him in this wise: "His personal
appearance was that of the typical New Englander of college-bred
ancestry. Tall, spare, slender, with sloping shoulders, slightly
stooping in his later years, with light hair and eyes, the scholar's
complexion, the prominent, somewhat arched nose which belongs to many
of the New England sub-species, thin lips, suggestive of delicacy, but
having nothing like primness, still less of the rigidity which is
often noticeable in the generation succeeding next to that of the men
in their shirt-sleeves, he would have been noticed anywhere as one
evidently a scholarly thinker astray from the alcove or the study,
which were his natural habitats. His voice was very sweet, and
penetrating without any loudness or mark of effort. His enunciation
was beautifully clear, but he often hesitated as if waiting for the
right word to present itself. His manner was very quiet, his smile was
pleasant, but he did not like explosive laughter any better than
Hawthorne did. None who met him can fail to recall that serene and
kindly presence, in which there was mingled a certain spiritual
remoteness with the most benignant human welcome to all who were
privileged to enjoy his companionship."

Emerson died April 27, 1882, after a few days' illness from pneumonia.
Dr. Garnett in his excellent biography says: "Seldom had 'the reaper
whose name is Death' gathered such illustrious harvest as between
December 1880 and April 1882. In the first month of this period George
Eliot passed away, in the ensuing February Carlyle followed; in April
Lord Beaconsfield died, deplored by his party, nor unregretted by his
country; in February of the following year Longfellow was carried to
the tomb; in April Rossetti was laid to rest by the sea, and the
pavement of Westminster Abbey was disturbed to receive the dust of
Darwin. And now Emerson lay down in death beside the painter of man
and the searcher of nature, the English-Oriental statesman, the poet
of the plain man and the poet of the artist, and the prophet whose
name is indissolubly linked with his own. All these men passed into
eternity laden with the spoils of Time, but of none of them could it
be said, as of Emerson, that the most shining intellectual glory and
the most potent intellectual force of a continent had departed along
with him."


Matthew Arnold, in an address on Emerson delivered in Boston, gave
an excellent estimate of the rank we should accord to him in the great
hierarchy of letters. Some, perhaps, will think that Arnold was
unappreciative and cold, but dispassionate readers will be inclined to
agree with his judgment of our great American.

After a review of the poetical works of Emerson the English critic
draws his conclusions as follows:

"I do not then place Emerson among the great poets. But I go farther,
and say that I do not place him among the great writers, the great men
of letters. Who are the great men of letters? They are men like
Cicero, Plato, Bacon, Pascal, Swift, Voltaire--writers with, in the
first place, a genius and instinct for style.... Brilliant and
powerful passages in a man's writings do not prove his possession of
it. Emerson has passages of noble and pathetic eloquence; he has
passages of shrewd and felicitous wit; he has crisp epigram; he has
passages of exquisitely touched observation of nature. Yet he is not a
great writer.... Carlyle formulates perfectly the defects of his
friend's poetic and literary productions when he says: 'For me it is
too ethereal, speculative, theoretic; I will have all things condense
themselves, take shape and body, if they are to have my sympathy.' ...

".... Not with the Miltons and Grays, not with the Platos and Spinozas,
not with the Swifts and Voltaires, not with the Montaignes and
Addisons, can we rank Emerson. No man could see this clearer than
Emerson himself. 'Alas, my friend,' he writes in reply to Carlyle, who
had exhorted him to creative work,--'Alas, my friend, I can do no such
gay thing as you say. I do not belong to the poets, but only to a low
department of literature,--the reporters; suburban men.' He deprecated
his friend's praise; praise 'generous to a fault' he calls it; praise
'generous to the shaming of me,--cold, fastidious, ebbing person that
I am.'"

After all this unfavorable criticism Arnold begins to praise. Quoting
passages from the Essays, he adds:

"This is tonic indeed! And let no one object that it is too general;
that more practical, positive direction is what we want.... Yes,
truly, his insight is admirable; his truth is precious. Yet the secret
of his effect is not even in these; it is in his temper. It is in the
hopeful, serene, beautiful temper wherewith these, in Emerson, are
indissolubly united; in which they work and have their being.... One
can scarcely overrate the importance of holding fast to happiness and
hope. It gives to Emerson's work an invaluable virtue. As Wordsworth's
poetry is, in my judgment, the most important done in verse, in our
language, during the present century, so Emerson's Essays are, I
think, the most important work done in prose.... But by his conviction
that in the life of the spirit is happiness, and by his hope that this
life of the spirit will come more and more to be sanely understood,
and to prevail, and to work for happiness,--by this conviction and
hope Emerson was great, and he will surely prove in the end to have
been right in them.... You cannot prize him too much, nor heed him too

Herman Grimm, a German critic of great influence in his own country,
did much to obtain a hearing for Emerson's works in Germany. At first
the Germans could not understand the unusual English, the unaccustomed
turns of phrase which are so characteristic of Emerson's style.

"Macaulay gives them no difficulty; even Carlyle is comprehended. But
in Emerson's writings the broad turnpike is suddenly changed into a
hazardous sandy foot-path. His thoughts and his style are American. He
is not writing for Berlin, but for the people of Massachusetts.... It
is an art to rise above what we have been taught.... All great men are
seen to possess this freedom. They derive their standard from their
own natures, and their observations on life are so natural and
spontaneous that it would seem as if the most illiterate person with a
scrap of common-sense would have made the same.... We become wiser
with them, and know not how the difficult appears easy and the
involved plain.

"Emerson possesses this noble manner of communicating himself. He
inspires me with courage and confidence. He has read and seen but
conceals the labor. I meet in his works plenty of familiar facts, but
he does not employ them to figure up anew the old worn-out problems:
each stands on a new spot and serves for new combinations. From
everything he sees the direct line issuing which connects it with the
focus of life....

".... Emerson's theory is that of the 'sovereignty of the individual.'
To discover what a young man is good for, and to equip him for the
path he is to strike out in life, regardless of any other
consideration, is the great duty to which he calls attention. He makes
men self-reliant. He reveals to the eyes of the idealist the
magnificent results of practical activity, and unfolds before the
realist the grandeur of the ideal world of thought. No man is to allow
himself, through prejudice, to make a mistake in choosing the task to
which he will devote his life. Emerson's essays are, as it were,
printed sermons--all having this same text.... The wealth and harmony
of his language overpowered and entranced me anew. But even now I
cannot say wherein the secret of his influence lies. What he has
written is like life itself--the unbroken thread ever lengthened
through the addition of the small events which make up each day's

Froude in his famous "Life of Carlyle" gives an interesting description
of Emerson's visit to the Carlyles in Scotland:

"The Carlyles were sitting alone at dinner on a Sunday afternoon at
the end of August when a Dumfries carriage drove to the door, and
there stepped out of it a young American then unknown to fame, but
whose influence in his own country equals that of Carlyle in ours, and
whose name stands connected with his wherever the English language is
spoken. Emerson, the younger of the two, had just broken his Unitarian
fetters, and was looking out around him like a young eagle longing for
light. He had read Carlyle's articles and had discerned with the
instinct of genius that here was a voice speaking real and fiery
convictions, and no longer echoes and conventionalisms. He had come to
Europe to study its social and spiritual phenomena; and to the young
Emerson as to the old Goethe, the most important of them appeared to
be Carlyle.... The acquaintance then begun to their mutual pleasure
ripened into a deep friendship, which has remained unclouded in spite
of wide divergences of opinion throughout their working lives."

Carlyle wrote to his mother after Emerson had left:

"Our third happiness was the arrival of a certain young unknown friend
named Emerson, from Boston, in the United States, who turned aside so
far from his British, French, and Italian travels to see me here! He
had an introduction from Mill and a Frenchman (Baron d'Eichthal's
nephew) whom John knew at Rome. Of course, we could do no other than
welcome him; the rather as he seemed to be one of the most lovable
creatures in himself we had ever looked on. He stayed till next day
with us, and talked and heard to his heart's content, and left us all
really sad to part with him."

In 1841 Carlyle wrote to John Sterling a few words apropos of the
recent publication of Emerson's essays in England:

"I love Emerson's book, not for its detached opinions, not even for
the scheme of the general world he has framed for himself, or any
eminence of talent he has expressed that with, but simply because it
is his own book; because there is a tone of veracity, an unmistakable
air of its being _his_, and a real utterance of a human soul, not a
mere echo of such. I consider it, in that sense, highly remarkable,
rare, very rare, in these days of ours. Ach Gott! It is frightful to
live among echoes. The few that read the book, I imagine, will get
benefit of it. To America, I sometimes say that Emerson, such as he
is, seems to me like a kind of New Era."

John Morley, the acute English critic, has made an analytic study of
Emerson's style, which may reconcile the reader to some of its
exasperating peculiarities.

"One of the traits that every critic notes in Emerson's writing is
that it is so abrupt, so sudden in its transitions, so discontinuous,
so inconsecutive. Dislike of a sentence that drags made him
unconscious of the quality that French critics name _coulant_.
Everything is thrown in just as it comes, and sometimes the pell-mell
is enough to persuade us that Pope did not exaggerate when he said
that no one qualification is so likely to make a good writer as the
power of rejecting his own thoughts.... Apart from his difficult
staccato, Emerson is not free from secondary faults. He uses words
that are not only odd, but vicious in construction; he is sometimes
oblique and he is often clumsy; and there is a visible feeling after
epigrams that do not always come. When people say that Emerson's style
must be good and admirable because it fits his thought, they forget
that though it is well that a robe should fit, there is still
something to be said about its cut and fashion.... Yet, as happens to
all fine minds, there came to Emerson ways of expression deeply marked
with character. On every page there is set the strong stamp of
sincerity, and the attraction of a certain artlessness; the most
awkward sentence rings true; and there is often a pure and simple note
that touches us more than if it were the perfection of elaborated
melody. The uncouth procession of the periods discloses the travail of
the thought, and that, too, is a kind of eloquence. An honest reader
easily forgives the rude jolt or unexpected start when it shows a
thinker faithfully working his way along arduous and unworn tracks.
Even at the roughest, Emerson often interjects a delightful cadence.
As he says of Landor, his sentences are cubes which will stand firm,
place them how or where you will. He criticised Swedenborg for being
superfluously explanatory, and having an exaggerated feeling of the
ignorance of men. 'Men take truths of this nature,' said Emerson,
'very fast;' and his own style does no doubt very boldly take this
capacity for granted in us. In 'choice and pith of diction,' again, of
which Mr. Lowell speaks, he hits the mark with a felicity that is
almost his own in this generation. He is terse, concentrated, and free
from the important blunder of mistaking intellectual dawdling for
meditation. Nor in fine does his abruptness ever impede a true
urbanity. The accent is homely and the apparel plain, but his bearing
has a friendliness, a courtesy, a hospitable humanity, which goes
nearer to our hearts than either literary decoration or rhetorical
unction. That modest and lenient fellow-feeling which gave such charm
to his companionship breathes in his gravest writing, and prevents us
from finding any page of it cold or hard or dry."

E.P. Whipple, the well-known American critic, wrote soon after Emerson's

"But 'sweetness and light' are precious and inspiring only so far as
they express the essential sweetness of the disposition of the
thinker, and the essential illuminating power of his intelligence.
Emerson's greatness came from his character. Sweetness and light
streamed from him because they were _in_ him. In everything he
thought, wrote, and did, we feel the presence of a personality as
vigorous and brave as it was sweet, and the particular radical thought
he at any time expressed derived its power to animate and illuminate
other minds from the might of the manhood, which was felt to be within
and behind it. To 'sweetness and light' he therefore added the prime
quality of fearless manliness.

"If the force of Emerson's character was thus inextricably blended
with the force of all his faculties of intellect and imagination, and
the refinement of all his sentiments, we have still to account for the
peculiarities of his genius, and to answer the question, why do we
instinctively apply the epithet 'Emersonian' to every characteristic
passage in his writings? We are told that he was the last in a long
line of clergymen, his ancestors, and that the modern doctrine of
heredity accounts for the impressive emphasis he laid on the moral
sentiment; but that does not solve the puzzle why he unmistakably
differed in his nature and genius from all other Emersons. An
imaginary genealogical chart of descent connecting him with Confucius
or Gautama would be more satisfactory.

"What distinguishes _the_ Emerson was his exceptional genius and
character, that something in him which separated him from all other
Emersons, as it separated him from all other eminent men of letters,
and impressed every intelligent reader with the feeling that he was
not only 'original but aboriginal.' Some traits of his mind and
character may be traced back to his ancestors, but what doctrine of
heredity can give us the genesis of his genius? Indeed, the safest
course to pursue is to quote his own words, and despairingly confess
that it is the nature of genius 'to spring, like the rainbow daughter
of Wonder, from the invisible, to abolish the past, and refuse all


Nature                         1836
Essays (First Series)          1841
Essays (Second Series)         1844
Poems                          1847
Miscellanies                   1849
Representative Men             1850
English Traits                 1856
Conduct of Life                1860
Society and Solitude           1870
Correspondence of Thomas
Carlyle and R.W. Emerson       1883


     This address was delivered at Cambridge in 1837, before the
     Harvard Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, a college
     fraternity composed of the first twenty-five men in each
     graduating class. The society has annual meetings, which
     have been the occasion for addresses from the most
     distinguished scholars and thinkers of the day.


I greet you on the recommencement of our literary year. Our
anniversary is one of hope, and, perhaps, not enough of labor. We do
not meet for games of strength[1] or skill, for the recitation of
histories, tragedies, and odes, like the ancient Greeks; for
parliaments of love and poesy, like the Troubadours;[2] nor for the
advancement of science, like our co-temporaries in the British and
European capitals. Thus far, our holiday has been simply a friendly
sign of the survival of the love of letters amongst a people too busy
to give to letters any more. As such it is precious as the sign of an
indestructible instinct. Perhaps the time is already come when it
ought to be, and will be, something else; when the sluggard intellect
of this continent will look from under its iron lids and fill the
postponed expectation of the world with something better than the
exertions of mechanical skill. Our day of dependence, our long
apprenticeship to the learning of other lands, draws to a close. The
millions that around us are rushing into life cannot always be fed on
the sere remains of foreign harvests.[3] Events, actions arise that
must be sung, that will sing themselves. Who can doubt that poetry
will revive and lead in a new age, as the star in the constellation
Harp, which now flames in our zenith, astronomers announce, shall one
day be the pole-star[4] for a thousand years?

In the light of this hope I accept the topic which not only usage but
the nature of our association seem to prescribe to this day,--the
AMERICAN SCHOLAR. Year by year we come up hither to read one
more chapter of his biography. Let us inquire what new lights, new
events, and more days have thrown on his character, his duties, and
his hopes.

It is one of those fables which out of an unknown antiquity convey an
unlooked-for wisdom, that the gods, in the beginning, divided Man into
men, that he might be more helpful to himself; just as the hand was
divided into fingers, the better to answer its end.[5]

The old fable covers a doctrine ever new and sublime; that there is
One Man,--present to all particular men only partially, or through one
faculty; and that you must take the whole society to find the whole
man. Man is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is
all. Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and
soldier. In the _divided_ or social state these functions are parceled
out to individuals, each of whom aims to do his stint[6] of the joint
work, whilst each other performs his. The fable implies that the
individual, to possess himself, must sometimes return from his own
labor to embrace all the other laborers. But, unfortunately, this
original unit, this fountain of power, has been so distributed to
multitudes, has been so minutely subdivided and peddled out, that it
is spilled into drops, and cannot be gathered. The state of society is
one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk and
strut about so many walking monsters,--a good finger, a neck, a
stomach, an elbow, but never a man.

Man is thus metamorphosed into a thing, into many things. The planter,
who is Man sent out into the field to gather food, is seldom cheered
by any idea of the true dignity of his ministry. He sees his bushel
and his cart, and nothing beyond, and sinks into the farmer, instead
of Man on the farm. The tradesman scarcely ever gives an ideal worth
to his work, but is ridden[7] by the routine of his craft, and the
soul is subject to dollars. The priest becomes a form; the attorney a
statute-book; the mechanic a machine; the sailor a rope of the ship.

In this distribution of functions the scholar is the delegated
intellect. In the right state he is _Man Thinking_. In the degenerate
state, when the victim of society, he tends to become a mere thinker,
or, still worse, the parrot of other men's thinking.

In this view of him, as Man Thinking, the whole theory of his office
is contained. Him Nature solicits with all her placid, all her
monitory pictures.[8] Him the past instructs. Him the future invites.
Is not indeed every man a student, and do not all things exist for the
student's behoof? And, finally, is not the true scholar the only true
master? But as the old oracle said, "All things have two handles:
Beware of the wrong one."[9] In life, too often, the scholar errs with
mankind and forfeits his privilege. Let us see him in his school, and
consider him in reference to the main influences he receives.

       *       *       *       *       *

I. The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon
the mind is that of nature. Every day, the sun;[10] and, after sunset,
Night and her stars. Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows. Every
day, men and women, conversing, beholding and beholden.[11] The scholar
must needs stand wistful and admiring before this great spectacle. He
must settle its value in his mind. What is nature to him? There is never
a beginning, there is never an end, to the inexplicable continuity of
this web of God, but always circular power returning into itself.[12]
Therein it resembles his own spirit, whose beginning, whose ending, he
never can find,--so entire, so boundless. Far too as her splendors
shine, system on system shooting like rays, upward, downward, without
center, without circumference,--in the mass and in the particle, Nature
hastens to render account of herself to the mind. Classification begins.
To the young mind everything is individual, stands by itself. By and by
it finds how to join two things and see in them one nature; then three,
then three thousand; and so, tyrannized over by its own unifying
instinct, it goes on tying things together, diminishing anomalies,
discovering roots running under ground whereby contrary and remote
things cohere and flower out from one stem. It presently learns that
since the dawn of history there has been a constant accumulation and
classifying of facts. But what is classification but the perceiving that
these objects are not chaotic, and are not foreign, but have a law which
is also a law of the human mind? The astronomer discovers that geometry,
a pure abstraction of the human mind, is the measure of planetary
motion. The chemist finds proportions and intelligible method throughout
matter; and science is nothing but the finding of analogy, identity, in
the most remote parts. The ambitious soul sits down before each
refractory fact; one after another reduces all strange constitutions,
all new powers, to their class and their law, and goes on forever to
animate the last fiber of organization, the outskirts of nature, by

Thus to him, to this school-boy under the bending dome of day, is
suggested that he and it proceed from one Root; one is leaf and one is
flower; relation, sympathy, stirring in every vein. And what is that
root? Is not that the soul of his soul?--A thought too bold?--A dream
too wild? Yet when this spiritual light shall have revealed the law of
more earthly natures,--when he has learned to worship the soul, and to
see that the natural philosophy that now is, is only the first
gropings of its gigantic hand,--he shall look forward to an
ever-expanding knowledge as to a becoming creator.[13] He shall see
that nature is the opposite of the soul, answering to it part for
part. One is seal and one is print. Its beauty is the beauty of his
own mind. Its laws are the laws of his own mind. Nature then becomes
to him the measure of his attainments. So much of nature as he is
ignorant of, so much of his own mind does he not yet possess. And, in
fine, the ancient precept, "Know thyself,"[14] and the modern precept,
"Study nature," become at last one maxim.

       *       *       *       *       *

II. The next great influence into the spirit of the scholar is the
mind of the Past,--in whatever form, whether of literature, of art, of
institutions, that mind is inscribed. Books are the best type of the
influence of the past, and perhaps we shall get at the truth,--learn
the amount of this influence more conveniently,--by considering their
value alone.

The theory of books is noble. The scholar of the first age received
into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new
arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him
life; it went out from him truth. It came to him short-lived actions;
it went out from him immortal thoughts. It came to him business; it
went from him poetry. It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It
can stand, and it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now
inspires.[15] Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which
it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.

Or, I might say, it depends on how far the process had gone, of
transmuting life into truth. In proportion to the completeness of the
distillation, so will the purity and imperishableness of the product
be. But none is quite perfect. As no air-pump can by any means make a
perfect vacuum,[16] so neither can any artist entirely exclude the
conventional, the local, the perishable from his book, or write a book
of pure thought, that shall be as efficient, in all respects, to a
remote posterity, as to contemporaries, or rather to the second age.
Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each
generation for the next succeeding. The books of an older period will
not fit this.

Yet hence arises a grave mischief. The sacredness which attaches to
the act of creation, the act of thought, is instantly transferred to
the record. The poet chanting was felt to be a divine man. Henceforth
the chant is divine also. The writer was a just and wise spirit.
Henceforward it is settled the book is perfect; as love of the hero
corrupts into worship of his statue. Instantly the book becomes
noxious.[17] The guide is a tyrant. We sought a brother, and lo, a
governor. The sluggish and perverted mind of the multitude, always
slow to open to the incursions of Reason, having once so opened,
having once received this book, stands upon it, and makes an outcry if
it is disparaged. Colleges are built on it. Books are written on it by
thinkers, not by Man Thinking, by men of talent, that is, who start
wrong, who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of
principles. Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their
duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke,[18] which
Bacon,[19] have given; forgetful that Cicero, Locke and Bacon were
only young men in libraries when they wrote these books.

Hence, instead of Man Thinking, we have the bookworm. Hence the
book-learned class, who value books, as such; not as related to nature
and the human constitution, but as making a sort of Third Estate[20]
with the world and soul. Hence the restorers of readings,[21] the
emendators,[22] the bibliomaniacs[23] of all degrees. This is bad;
this is worse than it seems.

Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What
is the right use? What is the one end which all means go to effect?
They are for nothing but to inspire.[24] I had better never see a book
than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and
made a satellite instead of a system. The one thing in the world of
value is the active soul,--the soul, free, sovereign, active. This
every man is entitled to; this every man contains within him, although
in almost all men obstructed, and as yet unborn. The soul active sees
absolute truth and utters truth, or creates. In this action it is
genius; not the privilege of here and there a favorite, but the sound
estate of every man.[25] In its essence it is progressive. The book,
the college, the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with
some past utterance of genius. This is good, say they,--let us hold by
this. They pin me down.[26] They look backward and not forward. But
genius always looks forward. The eyes of man are set in his forehead,
not in his hindhead. Man hopes. Genius creates. To create,--to
create,--is the proof of a divine presence. Whatever talents may be,
if the man create not, the pure efflux of the Deity is not
his;[27]--cinders and smoke there may be, but not yet flame. There are
creative manners, there are creative actions, and creative words;
manners, actions, words, that is, indicative of no custom or
authority, but springing spontaneous from the mind's own sense of good
and fair.

On the other part, instead of being its own seer, let it receive
always from another mind its truth, though it were in torrents of
light, without periods of solitude, inquest, and self-recovery; and a
fatal disservice[28] is done. Genius is always sufficiently the enemy
of genius by over-influence.[29] The literature of every nation bear
me witness. The English dramatic poets have Shakespearized now for two
hundred years.[30]

Undoubtedly there is a right way of reading, so it be sternly
subordinated. Man Thinking must not be subdued by his instruments.
Books are for the scholar's idle times. When he can read God directly,
the hour is too precious to be wasted in other men's transcripts of
their readings.[31] But when the intervals of darkness come, as come
they must,--when the soul seeth not, when the sun is hid and the stars
withdraw their shining,--we repair to the lamps which were kindled by
their ray, to guide our steps to the East again, where the dawn
is.[32] We hear, that we may speak. The Arabian proverb says, "A
fig-tree, looking on a fig-tree, becometh fruitful."

It is remarkable, the character of the pleasure we derive from the
best books. They impress us ever with the conviction that one nature
wrote and the same reads. We read the verses of one of the great
English poets, of Chaucer,[33] of Marvell,[34] of Dryden,[35] with the
most modern joy,--with a pleasure, I mean, which is in great part
caused by the abstraction of all _time_ from their verses. There is
some awe mixed with the joy of our surprise, when this poet, who lived
in some past world, two or three hundred years ago, says that which
lies close to my own soul, that which I also had well-nigh thought and
said. But for the evidence thence afforded to the philosophical
doctrine of the identity of all minds, we should suppose some
pre-established harmony, some foresight of souls that were to be, and
some preparation of stores for their future wants, like the fact
observed in insects, who lay up food before death for the young grub
they shall never see.

I would not be hurried by any love of system, by any exaggeration of
instincts, to underrate the Book. We all know that as the human body
can be nourished on any food, though it were boiled grass and the
broth of shoes, so the human mind can be fed by any knowledge. And
great and heroic men have existed who had almost no other information
than by the printed page. I only would say that it needs a strong head
to bear that diet. One must be an inventor to read well. As the
proverb says, "He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies must
carry out the wealth of the Indies." There is then creative reading as
well as creative writing. When the mind is braced by labor and
invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with
manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and the sense
of our author is as broad as the world. We then see, what is always
true, that as the seer's hour of vision is short and rare among heavy
days and months, so is its record, perchance, the least part of his
volume. The discerning will read, in his Plato[36] or Shakespeare,
only that least part,--only the authentic utterances of the
oracle;--all the rest he rejects, were it never so many times Plato's
and Shakespeare's.

Of course there is a portion of reading quite indispensable to a wise
man. History and exact science he must learn by laborious reading.
Colleges, in like manner, have their indispensable office,--to teach
elements. But they can only highly serve us when they aim not to
drill, but to create; when they gather from far every ray of various
genius to their hospitable halls, and by the concentrated fires set
the hearts of their youth on flame. Thought and knowledge are natures
in which apparatus and pretension avail nothing. Gowns[37] and
pecuniary foundations,[38] though of towns of gold, can never
countervail the least sentence or syllable of wit.[39] Forget this,
and our American colleges will recede in their public importance,
whilst they grow richer every year.

       *       *       *       *       *

III. There goes in the world a notion that the scholar should be a
recluse, a valetudinarian,[40]--as unfit for any handiwork or public
labor as a penknife for an axe. The so-called "practical men" sneer at
speculative men, as if, because they speculate or _see_, they could do
nothing. I have heard it said that the clergy--who are always, more
universally than any other class, the scholars of their day--are
addressed as women; that the rough, spontaneous conversation of men
they do not hear, but only a mincing[41] and diluted speech. They are
often virtually disfranchised; and indeed there are advocates for
their celibacy. As far as this is true of the studious classes, it is
not just and wise. Action is with the scholar subordinate, but it is
essential. Without it he is not yet man. Without it thought can never
ripen into truth. Whilst the world hangs before the eye as a cloud of
beauty, we cannot even see its beauty. Inaction is cowardice, but
there can be no scholar without the heroic mind. The preamble[42] of
thought, the transition through which it passes from the unconscious
to the conscious, is action. Only so much do I know, as I have lived.
Instantly we know whose words are loaded with life, and whose not.

The world--this shadow of the soul, or _other me_, lies wide around.
Its attractions are the keys which unlock my thoughts and make me
acquainted with myself. I launch eagerly into this resounding tumult.
I grasp the hands of those next me, and take my place in the ring to
suffer and to work, taught by an instinct that so shall the dumb
abyss[43] be vocal with speech. I pierce its order; I dissipate its
fear;[44] I dispose of it within the circuit of my expanding life. So
much only of life as I know by experience, so much of the wilderness
have I vanquished and planted, or so far have I extended my being, my
dominion. I do not see how any man can afford, for the sake of his
nerves and his nap, to spare any action in which he can partake. It is
pearls and rubies to his discourse. Drudgery, calamity, exasperation,
want, are instructors in eloquence and wisdom. The true scholar
grudges every opportunity of action passed by, as a loss of power.

It is the raw material out of which the intellect molds her splendid
products. A strange process too, this by which experience is converted
into thought, as a mulberry-leaf is converted into satin.[45] The
manufacture goes forward at all hours.

The actions and events of our childhood and youth are now matters of
calmest observation. They lie like fair pictures in the air. Not so
with our recent actions,--with the business which we now have in hand.
On this we are quite unable to speculate. Our affections as yet
circulate through it. We no more feel or know it than we feel the
feet, or the hand, or the brain of our body. The new deed is yet a
part of life,--remains for a time immersed in our unconscious life. In
some contemplative hour it detaches itself from the life like a ripe
fruit,[46] to become a thought of the mind. Instantly it is raised,
transfigured; the corruptible has put on incorruption.[47] Henceforth
it is an object of beauty, however base its origin and neighborhood.
Observe, too, the impossibility of antedating this act. In its grub
state it cannot fly, it cannot shine, it is a dull grub. But suddenly,
without observation, the selfsame thing unfurls beautiful wings, and
is an angel of wisdom. So is there no fact, no event, in our private
history, which shall not, sooner or later, lose its adhesive, inert
form, and astonish us by soaring from our body into the empyrean.[48]
Cradle and infancy, school and playground, the fear of boys, and dogs,
and ferules,[49] the love of little maids and berries, and many
another fact that once filled the whole sky, are gone already; friend
and relative, profession and party, town and country, nation and
world, must also soar and sing.[50]

Of course, he who has put forth his total strength in fit actions has
the richest return of wisdom. I will not shut myself out of this globe
of action, and transplant an oak into a flower-pot, there to hunger
and pine; nor trust the revenue of some single faculty, and exhaust
one vein of thought, much like those Savoyards,[51] who, getting their
livelihood by carving shepherds, shepherdesses, and smoking Dutchmen,
for all Europe, went out one day to the mountain to find stock, and
discovered that they had whittled up the last of their pine-trees.
Authors we have, in numbers, who have written out their vein, and who,
moved by a commendable prudence, sail for Greece or Palestine, follow
the trapper into the prairie, or ramble round Algiers, to replenish
their merchantable stock.

If it were only for a vocabulary, the scholar would be covetous of
action. Life is our dictionary.[52] Years are well spent in country
labors; in town; in the insight into trades and manufactures; in frank
intercourse with many men and women; in science; in art; to the one
end of mastering in all their facts a language by which to illustrate
and embody our perceptions. I learn immediately from any speaker how
much he has already lived, through the poverty or the splendor of his
speech. Life lies behind us as the quarry from whence we get tiles and
copestones for the masonry of to-day. This is the way to learn
grammar. Colleges and books only copy the language which the field and
the work-yard made.

But the final value of action, like that of books, and better than
books, is that it is a resource. That great principle of Undulation in
nature, that shows itself in the inspiring and expiring of the breath;
in desire and satiety; in the ebb and flow of the sea; in day and night;
in heat and cold; and, as yet more deeply ingrained in every atom and
every fluid, is known to us under the name of Polarity,--these "fits of
easy transmission and reflection," as Newton[53] called them, are the
law of nature because they are the law of spirit.

The mind now thinks, now acts, and each fit reproduces the other. When
the artist has exhausted his materials, when the fancy no longer
paints, when thoughts are no longer apprehended and books are a
weariness,--he has always the resource _to live_. Character is higher
than intellect. Thinking is the function. Living is the functionary.
The stream retreats to its source. A great soul will be strong to
live, as well as strong to think. Does he lack organ or medium to
impart his truth? He can still fall back on this elemental force of
living them. This is a total act. Thinking is a partial act. Let the
grandeur of justice shine in his affairs. Let the beauty of affection
cheer his lowly roof. Those "far from fame," who dwell and act with
him, will feel the force of his constitution in the doings and
passages of the day better than it can be measured by any public and
designed display. Time shall teach him that the scholar loses no hour
which the man lives. Herein he unfolds the sacred germ of his
instinct, screened from influence. What is lost in seemliness is
gained in strength. Not out of those on whom systems of education have
exhausted their culture comes the helpful giant to destroy the old or
to build the new, but out of unhandselled[54] savage nature; out of
terrible Druids[55] and Berserkers[56] come at last Alfred[57] and
Shakespeare. I hear therefore with joy whatever is beginning to be
said of the dignity and necessity of labor to every citizen. There is
virtue yet in the hoe and the spade,[58] for learned as well as for
unlearned hands. And labor is everywhere welcome; always we are
invited to work; only be this limitation observed, that a man shall
not for the sake of wider activity sacrifice any opinion to the
popular judgments and modes of action.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have now spoken of the education of the scholar by nature, by books,
and by action. It remains to say somewhat of his duties.

They are such as become Man Thinking. They may all be comprised in
self-trust. The office of the scholar is to cheer, to raise, and to
guide men by showing them facts amidst appearances. He plies the slow,
unhonored, and unpaid task of observation. Flamsteed[59] and
Herschel,[60] in their glazed observatories, may catalogue the stars
with the praise of all men, and, the results being splendid and
useful, honor is sure. But he, in his private observatory, cataloguing
obscure and nebulous[61] stars of the human mind, which as yet no man
has thought of as such,--watching days and months sometimes for a few
facts; correcting still his old records,--must relinquish display and
immediate fame. In the long period of his preparation he must betray
often an ignorance and shiftlessness in popular arts, incurring the
disdain of the able who shoulder him aside. Long he must stammer in
his speech; often forego the living for the dead. Worse yet, he must
accept--how often!--poverty and solitude. For the ease and pleasure of
treading the old road, accepting the fashions, the education, the
religion of society, he takes the cross of making his own, and, of
course, the self-accusation, the faint heart, the frequent uncertainty
and loss of time, which are the nettles and tangling vines in the way
of the self-relying and self-directed; and the state of virtual
hostility in which he seems to stand to society, and especially to
educated society. For all this loss and scorn, what offset? He is to
find consolation in exercising the highest functions of human nature.
He is one who raises himself from private considerations and breathes
and lives on public and illustrious thoughts. He is the world's eye.
He is the world's heart. He is to resist the vulgar prosperity that
retrogrades ever to barbarism, by preserving and communicating heroic
sentiments, noble biographies, melodious verse, and the conclusions of
history. Whatsoever oracles the human heart, in all emergencies, in
all solemn hours, has uttered as its commentary on the world of
actions,--these he shall receive and impart. And whatsoever new
verdict Reason from her inviolable seat pronounces on the passing men
and events of to-day,--this he shall hear and promulgate.

These being his functions, it becomes him to feel all confidence in
himself, and to defer never to the popular cry. He and he only knows
the world. The world of any moment is the merest appearance. Some
great decorum, some fetich[62] of a government, some ephemeral trade,
or war, or man, is cried up[63] by half mankind and cried down by the
other half, as if all depended on this particular up or down. The odds
are that the whole question is not worth the poorest thought which the
scholar has lost in listening to the controversy. Let him not quit his
belief that a popgun is a popgun, though the ancient and honorable[64]
of the earth affirm it to be the crack of doom. In silence, in
steadiness, in severe abstraction, let him hold by himself; add
observation to observation, patient of neglect, patient of reproach,
and bide his own time,--happy enough if he can satisfy himself alone
that this day he has seen something truly. Success treads on every
right step. For the instinct is sure that prompts him to tell his
brother what he thinks. He then learns that in going down into the
secrets of his own mind he has descended into the secrets of all
minds. He learns that he who has mastered any law in his private
thoughts is master to that extent of all men whose language he speaks,
and of all into whose language his own can be translated. The poet, in
utter solitude remembering his spontaneous thoughts and recording
them, is found to have recorded that which men in cities vast find
true for them also. The orator distrusts at first the fitness of his
frank confessions, his want of knowledge of the persons he addresses,
until he finds that he is the complement[65] of his hearers;--that
they drink his words because he fulfills for them their own nature;
the deeper he dives into his privatest, secretest presentiment, to his
wonder he finds this is the most acceptable, most public and
universally true. The people delight in it; the better part of every
man feels--This is my music; this is myself.

In self-trust all the virtues are comprehended. Free should the
scholar be,--free and brave. Free even to the definition of freedom,
"without any hindrance that does not arise out of his own
constitution." Brave; for fear is a thing which a scholar by his very
function puts behind him. Fear always springs from ignorance. It is a
shame to him if his tranquility, amid dangerous times, arise from the
presumption that like children and women his is a protected class; or
if he seek a temporary peace by the diversion of his thoughts from
politics or vexed questions, hiding his head like an ostrich in the
flowering bushes, peeping into microscopes, and turning rhymes, as a
boy whistles to keep his courage up. So is the danger a danger still;
so is the fear worse. Manlike let him turn and face it. Let him look
into its eye and search its nature, inspect its origin,--see the
whelping of this lion,--which lies no great way back; he will then
find in himself a perfect comprehension of its nature and extent; he
will have made his hands meet on the other side, and can henceforth
defy it and pass on superior. The world is his who can see through its
pretension. What deafness, what stone-blind custom, what overgrown
error you behold is there only by sufferance,--by your sufferance. See
it to be a lie, and you have already dealt it its mortal blow.

Yes, we are the cowed,--we the trustless. It is a mischievous notion
that we are come late into nature; that the world was finished a long
time ago. As the world was plastic and fluid in the hands of God, so
it is ever to so much of his attributes as we bring to it. To
ignorance and sin it is flint. They adapt themselves to it as they
may; but in proportion as a man has any thing in him divine, the
firmament flows before him and takes his signet[66] and form. Not he
is great who can alter matter, but he who can alter my state of mind.
They are the kings of the world who give the color of their present
thought to all nature and all art, and persuade men, by the cheerful
serenity of their carrying the matter, that this thing which they do
is the apple which the ages have desired to pluck, now at last ripe,
and inviting nations to the harvest. The great man makes the great
thing. Wherever Macdonald[67] sits, there is the head of the table.
Linnaeus[68] makes botany the most alluring of studies, and wins it
from the farmer and the herb-woman: Davy,[69] chemistry; and
Cuvier,[70] fossils. The day is always his who works in it with
serenity and great aims. The unstable estimates of men crowd to him
whose mind is filled with a truth, as the heaped waves of the Atlantic
follow the moon.[71]

For this self-trust, the reason is deeper than can be fathomed,--darker
than can be enlightened. I might not carry with me the feeling of my
audience in stating my own belief. But I have already shown the ground
of my hope, in adverting to the doctrine that man is one. I believe man
has been wronged; he has wronged himself. He has almost lost the light
that can lead him back to his prerogatives. Men are become of no
account. Men in history, men in the world of to-day, are bugs, are
spawn, and are called "the mass" and "the herd." In a century, in a
millennium, one or two men;[72] that is to say, one or two
approximations to the right state of every man. All the rest behold in
the hero or the poet their own green and crude being,--ripened; yes, and
are content to be less, so _that_ may attain to its full stature. What a
testimony, full of grandeur, full of pity, is borne to the demands of
his own nature, by the poor clansman, the poor partisan, who rejoices in
the glory of his chief! The poor and the low find some amends to their
immense moral capacity, for their acquiescence in a political and social
inferiority.[73] They are content to be brushed like flies from the path
of a great person, so that justice shall be done by him to that common
nature which it is the dearest desire of all to see enlarged and
glorified. They sun themselves in the great man's light, and feel it to
be their own element. They cast the dignity of man from their downtrod
selves upon the shoulders of a hero, and will perish to add one drop of
blood to make that great heart beat, those giant sinews combat and
conquer. He lives for us, and we live in him.

Men such as they[74] are very naturally seek money or power; and power
because it is as good as money,--the "spoils," so called, "of office."
And why not? For they aspire to the highest, and this, in their
sleep-walking, they dream is highest. Wake them and they shall quit
the false good and leap to the true, and leave governments to clerks
and desks. This revolution is to be wrought by the gradual
domestication of the idea of Culture. The main enterprise of the world
for splendor, for extent, is the upbuilding of a man. Here are the
materials strewn along the ground. The private life of one man shall
be a more illustrious monarchy, more formidable to its enemy, more
sweet and serene in its influence to its friend, than any kingdom in
history. For a man, rightly viewed, comprehendeth[75] the particular
natures of all men. Each philosopher, each bard, each actor has only
done for me, as by a delegate, what one day I can do for myself. The
books which once we valued more than the apple of the eye, we have
quite exhausted. What is that but saying that we have come up with the
point of view which the universal mind took through the eyes of one
scribe; we have been that man, and have passed on. First, one, then
another, we drain all cisterns, and waxing greater by all these
supplies, we crave a better and a more abundant food. The man has
never lived that can feed us ever. The human mind cannot be enshrined
in a person who shall set a barrier on any one side to this unbounded,
unboundable empire. It is one central fire, which, flaming now out of
the lips of Etna, lightens the capes of Sicily, and now out of the
throat of Vesuvius, illuminates the towers and vineyards of Naples. It
is one light which beams out of a thousand stars. It is one soul which
animates all men.

       *       *       *       *       *

But I have dwelt perhaps tediously upon this abstraction of the
Scholar. I ought not to delay longer to add what I have to say of
nearer reference to the time and to this country.

Historically, there is thought to be a difference in the ideas which
predominate over successive epochs, and there are data for marking the
genius of the Classic, of the Romantic, and now of the Reflective or
Philosophical age.[76] With the views I have intimated of the oneness
or the identity of the mind through all individuals, I do not much
dwell on these differences. In fact, I believe each individual passes
through all three. The boy is a Greek; the youth, romantic; the
adult, reflective. I deny not, however, that a revolution in the
leading idea may be distinctly enough traced.

Our age is bewailed as the age of Introversion.[77] Must that needs be
evil? We, it seems, are critical. We are embarrassed with second
thoughts.[78] We cannot enjoy anything for hankering to know whereof
the pleasure consists. We are lined with eyes. We see with our feet.
The time is infected with Hamlet's unhappiness,--

     "Sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought."[79]

Is it so bad then? Sight is the last thing to be pitied. Would we be
blind? Do we fear lest we should outsee nature and God, and drink
truth dry? I look upon the discontent of the literary class as a mere
announcement of the fact that they find themselves not in the state of
mind of their fathers, and regret the coming state as untried; as a
boy dreads the water before he has learned that he can swim. If there
is any period one would desire to be born in, is it not the age of
Revolution; when the old and the new stand side by side and admit of
being compared; when the energies of all men are searched by fear and
by hope; when the historic glories of the old can be compensated by
the rich possibilities of the new era? This time, like all times, is a
very good one, if we but know what to do with it.

I read with some joy of the auspicious signs of the coming days, as
they glimmer already through poetry and art, through philosophy and
science, through church and state.

One of these signs is the fact that the same movement[80] which
effected the elevation of what was called the lowest class in the
state assumed in literature a very marked and as benign an aspect.
Instead of the sublime and beautiful, the near, the low, the common,
was explored and poetized. That which had been negligently trodden
under foot by those who were harnessing and provisioning themselves
for long journeys into far countries, is suddenly found to be richer
than all foreign parts. The literature of the poor, the feelings of
the child, the philosophy of the street, the meaning of household
life, are the topics of the time. It is a great stride. It is a
sign--is it not?--of new vigor when the extremities are made active,
when currents of warm life run into the hands and the feet. I ask not
for the great, the remote, the romantic; what is doing in Italy or
Arabia; what is Greek art, or Provencal minstrelsy; I embrace the
common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low. Give
me insight into to-day, and you may have the antique and future
worlds. What would we really know the meaning of? The meal in the
firkin; the milk in the pan; the ballad in the street; the news of the
boat; the glance of the eye; the form and the gait of the body;--show
me the ultimate reason of these matters; show me the sublime presence
of the highest spiritual cause lurking, as always it does lurk, in
these suburbs and extremities of nature; let me see every trifle
bristling with the polarity that ranges it instantly on an eternal
law;[81] and the shop, the plow, and the ledger referred to the like
cause by which light undulates and poets sing;--and the world lies no
longer a dull miscellany and lumber-room, but has form and order:
there is no trifle, there is no puzzle, but one design unites and
animates the farthest pinnacle and the lowest trench.

This idea has inspired the genius of Goldsmith,[82] Burns,[83]
Cowper,[84] and, in a newer time, of Goethe,[85] Wordsworth,[86] and
Carlyle.[87] This idea they have differently followed and with various
success. In contrast with their writing, the style of Pope,[88] of
Johnson,[89] of Gibbon,[90] looks cold and pedantic. This writing is
blood-warm. Man is surprised to find that things near are not less
beautiful and wondrous than things remote. The near explains the far.
The drop is a small ocean. A man is related to all nature. This
perception of the worth of the vulgar is fruitful in discoveries.
Goethe, in this very thing the most modern of the moderns, has shown
us, as none ever did, the genius of the ancients.

There is one man of genius who has done much for this philosophy of
life, whose literary value has never yet been rightly estimated:--I
mean Emanuel Swedenborg.[91] The most imaginative of men, yet writing
with the precision of a mathematician, he endeavored to engraft a
purely philosophical Ethics on the popular Christianity of his time.
Such an attempt of course must have difficulty which no genius could
surmount. But he saw and showed the connexion between nature and the
affections of the soul. He pierced the emblematic or spiritual
character of the visible, audible, tangible world. Especially did his
shade-loving muse hover over and interpret the lower parts of nature;
he showed the mysterious bond that allies moral evil to the foul
material forms, and has given in epical parables a theory of insanity,
of beasts, of unclean and fearful things.

Another sign of our times, also marked by an analogous political
movement, is the new importance given to the single person. Everything
that tends to insulate the individual--to surround him with barriers
of natural respect, so that each man shall feel the world is his, and
man shall treat with man as a sovereign state with a sovereign
state--tends to true union as well as greatness. "I learned," said the
melancholy Pestalozzi,[92] "that no man in God's wide earth is either
willing or able to help any other man." Help must come from the bosom
alone. The scholar is that man who must take up into himself all the
ability of the time, all the contributions of the past, all the hopes
of the future. He must be an university of knowledges. If there be one
lesson more than another that should pierce his ear, it is--The world
is nothing, the man is all; in yourself is the law of all nature, and
you know not yet how a globule of sap ascends; in yourself slumbers
the whole of Reason; it is for you to know all; it is for you to dare
all. Mr. President and Gentlemen, this confidence in the unsearched
might of man belongs, by all motives, by all prophecy, by all
preparation, to the American Scholar. We have listened too long to the
courtly muses of Europe. The spirit of the American freeman is already
suspected to be timid, imitative, tame. Public and private avarice
make the air we breathe thick and fat. The scholar is decent,
indolent, complaisant. See already the tragic consequence. The mind of
this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself. There is
no work for any one but the decorous and the complaisant. Young men of
the fairest promise, who begin life upon our shores, inflated by the
mountain winds, shined upon by all the stars of God, find the earth
below not in unison with these, but are hindered from action by the
disgust which the principles on which business is managed inspire, and
turn drudges, or die of disgust, some of them suicides. What is the
remedy? They did not yet see, and thousands of young men as hopeful
now crowding to the barriers for the career do not yet see, that if
the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there
abide, the huge world will come round to him. Patience,--patience;
with the shades of all the good and great for company; and for solace
the perspective of your own infinite life; and for work the study and
the communication of principles, the making those instincts prevalent,
the conversion of the world. Is it not the chief disgrace in the
world, not to be an unit; not to be reckoned one character; not to
yield that peculiar fruit which each man was created to bear, but to
be reckoned in the gross, in the hundred, or the thousand, of the
party, the section, to which we belong; and our opinion predicted
geographically, as the north, or the south? Not so, brothers and
friends,--please God, ours shall not be so. We will walk on our own
feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds.
Then shall man be no longer a name for pity, for doubt, and for
sensual indulgence. The dread of man and the love of man shall be a
wall of defense and a wreath of joy around all. A nation of men will
for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by
the Divine Soul which also inspires all men.


    The wings of Time are black and white,
    Pied with morning and with night.
    Mountain tall and ocean deep
    Trembling balance duly keep.
    In changing moon, in tidal wave,
    Glows the feud of Want and Have.
    Gauge of more and less through space
    Electric star and pencil plays.
    The lonely Earth amid the balls
    That hurry through the eternal halls,
    A makeweight flying to the void,
    Supplemental asteroid,
    Or compensatory spark,
    Shoots across the neutral Dark.

    Man's the elm, and Wealth the vine,
    Stanch and strong the tendrils twine;
    Through the frail ringlets thee deceive,
    None from its stock that vine can reave.
    Fear not, then, thou child infirm,
    There's no god dare wrong a worm.
    Laurel crowns cleave to deserts,
    And power to him who power exerts;
    Hast not thy share? On winged feet,
    Lo! it rushes thee to meet;
    And all that Nature made thy own,
    Floating in air or pent in stone,
    Will rive the hills and swim the sea,
    And, like thy shadow, follow thee.

Ever since I was a boy, I have wished to write a discourse on
Compensation: for it seemed to me when very young, that on this
subject life was ahead of theology, and the people knew more than the
preachers taught. The documents,[94] too, from which the doctrine is
to be drawn, charmed my fancy by their endless variety, and lay always
before me, even in sleep; for they are the tools in our hands, the
bread in our basket, the transactions of the street, the farm, and the
dwelling-house, greetings, relations, debts and credits, the influence
of character, the nature and endowment of all men. It seemed to me,
also, that in it might be shown men a ray of divinity, the present
action of the soul of this world, clean from all vestige of tradition,
and so the heart of man might be bathed by an inundation of eternal
love, conversing with that which he knows was always and always must
be, because it really is now. It appeared, moreover, that if this
doctrine could be stated in terms with any resemblance to those bright
intuitions in which this truth is sometimes revealed to us, it would
be a star in many dark hours and crooked passages in our journey that
would not suffer us to lose our way.

I was lately confirmed in these desires by hearing a sermon at church.
The preacher, a man esteemed for his orthodoxy, unfolded in the
ordinary manner the doctrine of the Last Judgment. He assumed that
judgment is not executed in this world; that the wicked are
successful; that the good are miserable;[95] and then urged from
reason and from Scripture a compensation to be made to both parties in
the next life. No offense appeared to be taken by the congregation at
this doctrine. As far as I could observe, when the meeting broke up,
they separated without remark on the sermon.

Yet what was the import of this teaching? What did the preacher mean
by saying that the good are miserable in the present life? Was it that
houses and lands, offices, wine, horses, dress, luxury, are had by
unprincipled men, whilst the saints are poor and despised; and that a
compensation is to be made to these last hereafter, by giving them the
like gratifications another day,--bank stock and doubloons,[96]
venison and champagne? This must be the compensation intended; for
what else? Is it that they are to have leave to pray and praise? to
love and serve men? Why, that they can do now. The legitimate
inference the disciple would draw was: "We are to have _such_ a good
time as the sinners have now"; or, to push it to its extreme import:
"You sin now; we shall sin by and by; we would sin now, if we could;
not being successful, we expect our revenue to-morrow."

The fallacy lay in the immense concession that the bad are successful;
that justice is not done now. The blindness of the preacher consisted
in deferring to the base estimate of the market of what constitutes a
manly success, instead of confronting and convicting the world from
the truth; announcing the presence of the soul; the omnipotence of the
will: and so establishing the standard of good and ill, of success and

I find a similar base tone in the popular religious works of the day,
and the same doctrines assumed by the literary men when occasionally
they treat the related topics. I think that our popular theology has
gained in decorum, and not in principle, over the superstitions it has
displaced. But men are better than this theology. Their daily life
gives it the lie. Every ingenuous and aspiring soul leaves the
doctrine behind him in his own experience; and all men feel sometimes
the falsehood which they cannot demonstrate. Few men are wiser than
they know. That which they hear in schools and pulpits without
afterthought, if said in conversation, would probably be questioned in
silence. If a man dogmatize in a mixed company on Providence and the
divine laws, he is answered by a silence which conveys well enough to
an observer the dissatisfaction of the hearer, but his incapacity to
make his own statement.

I shall attempt in this and the following chapter to record some facts
that indicate the path of the law of Compensation; happy beyond my
expectation, if I shall truly draw the smallest arc of this circle.

POLARITY,[97] or action and reaction, we meet in every part of nature;
in darkness and light; in heat and cold; in the ebb and flow of waters;
in male and female; in the inspiration and expiration of plants and
animals; in the equation of quantity and quality in the fluids of the
animal body; in the systole and diastole[98] of the heart; in the
undulations of fluids, and of sound; in the centrifugal and centripetal
gravity; in electricity, galvanism, and chemical affinity. Superinduce
magnetism at one end of a needle; the opposite magnetism takes place at
the other end. If the south attracts, the north repels. To empty here,
you must condense there. An inevitable dualism bisects nature, so that
each thing is a half, and suggests another thing to make it whole; as,
spirit, matter; man, woman; odd, even; subjective, objective; in, out;
upper, under; motion, rest; yea, nay.

Whilst the world is thus dual, so is every one of its parts. The
entire system of things gets represented in every particle. There is
somewhat that resembles the ebb and flow of the sea, day and night,
man and woman, in a single needle of the pine, in a kernel of corn, in
each individual of every animal tribe. The reaction, so grand in the
elements, is repeated within these small boundaries. For example, in
the animal kingdom the physiologist has observed that no creatures
are favorites, but a certain compensation balances every gift and
every defect. A surplusage given to one part is paid out of a
reduction from another part of the same creature. If the head and neck
are enlarged, the trunk and extremities are cut short.

The theory of the mechanic forces is another example. What we gain in
power is lost in time; and the converse. The periodic or compensating
errors of the planets is another instance. The influences of climate
and soil in political history is another. The cold climate
invigorates. The barren soil does not breed fevers, crocodiles,
tigers, or scorpions.

The same dualism underlies the nature and condition of man. Every
excess causes a defect; every defect an excess. Every sweet hath its
sour; every evil its good. Every faculty which is a receiver of
pleasure has an equal penalty put on its abuse. It is to answer for
its moderation with its life. For every grain of wit there is a grain
of folly. For everything you have missed, you have gained something
else; and for everything you gain, you lose something. If riches
increase, they are increased[99] that use them. If the gatherer
gathers too much, nature takes out of the man what she puts into his
chest, swells the estate, but kills the owner. Nature hates monopolies
and exceptions. The waves of the sea do not more speedily seek a level
from their loftiest tossing, than the varieties of condition tend to
equalize themselves. There is always some leveling circumstance that
puts down the overbearing, the strong, the rich, the fortunate,
substantially on the same ground with all others. Is a man too strong
and fierce for society, and by temper and position a bad citizen,--a
morose ruffian, with a dash of the pirate in him;--nature sends him a
troop of pretty sons and daughters, who are getting along in the
dame's classes at the village school, and love and fear for them
smooths his grim scowl to courtesy. Thus she contrives to
intenerate[100] the granite and felspar, takes the boar out and puts
the lamb in, and keeps her balance true.

The farmer imagines power and place are fine things. But the President
has paid dear for his White House.[101] It has commonly cost him all
his peace, and the best of his many attributes. To preserve for a
short time so conspicuous an appearance before the world, he is
content to eat dust[102] before the real masters who stand erect
behind the throne. Or, do men desire the more substantial and
permanent grandeur of genius? Neither has this an immunity. He who by
force of will or of thought, is great, and overlooks[103] thousands,
has the charges of that eminence. With every influx of light comes new
danger. Has he light? he must bear witness to the light, and always
outrun that sympathy which gives him such keen satisfaction, by his
fidelity to new revelations of the incessant soul. He must hate father
and mother, wife and child. Has he all that the world loves and
admires and covets?--he must cast behind him their admiration, and
afflict them by faithfulness to his truth, and become a by-word and a

This law writes the laws of cities and nations. It is in vain to build
or plot or combine against it. Things refuse to be mismanaged long.
_Res nolunt diu male administrari._[104] Though no checks to a new
evil appear, the checks exist, and will appear. If the government is
cruel, the governor's life is not safe. If you tax too high, the
revenue will yield nothing. If you make the criminal code sanguinary,
juries will not convict. If the law is too mild, private vengeance
comes in. If the government is a terrific democracy, the pressure is
resisted by an overcharge of energy in the citizen, and life glows
with a fiercer flame. The true life and satisfactions of man seem to
elude the utmost rigors or felicities of condition, and to establish
themselves with great indifferency under all varieties of
circumstances. Under all governments the influence of character
remains the same,--in Turkey and in New England about alike. Under the
primeval despots of Egypt, history honestly confesses that man must
have been as free as culture could make him.

These appearances indicate the fact that the universe is represented
in every one of its particles. Everything in nature contains all the
powers of nature. Everything is made of one hidden stuff; as the
naturalist sees one type under every metamorphosis, and regards a
horse as a running man, a fish as a swimming man, a bird as a flying
man, a tree as a rooted man. Each new form repeats not only the main
character of the type, but part for part all the details, all the
aims, furtherances, hindrances, energies, and whole system of every
other. Every occupation, trade, art, transaction, is a compend of the
world and a correlative of every other. Each one is an entire emblem
of human life; of its good and ill, its trials, its enemies, its
course and its end. And each one must somehow accommodate the whole
man, and recite all his destiny.

The world globes itself in a drop of dew.[105] The microscope cannot
find the animalcule which is less perfect for being little.[106] Eyes,
ears, taste, smell, motion, resistance, appetite, and organs of
reproduction that take hold on eternity,--all find room to consist in
the small creature. So do we put our life into every act. The true
doctrine of omnipresence is, that God reappears with all his parts in
every moss and cobweb.[107] The value of the universe contrives to
throw itself into every point. If the good is there, so is the evil;
if the affinity, so the repulsion; if the force, so the limitation.

Thus is the universe alive. All things are moral. That soul, which
within us is a sentiment, outside of us is a law. We feel its
inspiration; out there in history we can see its fatal strength. "It
is in the world, and the world was made by it." Justice is not
postponed. A perfect equity adjusts its balance in all parts of life.
[Greek: Hoi  kyboi Dios aei eupiptousi],[108]--the dice of God are
always loaded. The world looks like a multiplication table, or a
mathematical equation, which, turn it how you will, balances itself.
Take what figure you will, its exact value, nor more nor less, still
returns to you. Every secret is told, every crime is punished, every
virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty. What
we call retribution is the universal necessity by which the whole
appears wherever a part appears. If you see smoke, there must be fire.
If you see a hand or limb, you know that the trunk to which it belongs
is there behind.

Every act rewards itself, or, in other words, integrates itself, in a
twofold manner; first, in the thing, or in real nature; and secondly,
in the circumstance, or in apparent nature. Men call the circumstance
the retribution. The causal retribution is in the thing, and is seen
by the soul. The retribution in the circumstance is seen by the
understanding; it is inseparable from the thing, but is often spread
over a long time, and so does not become distinct until after many
years. The specific stripes may follow late after the offense, but
they follow because they accompany it. Crime and punishment grow out
of one stem. Punishment is a fruit that unsuspected ripens within the
flower of the pleasure which concealed it. Cause and effect, means and
ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms
in the cause, the end preexists in the means, the fruit in the seed.

Whilst thus the world will be whole, and refuses to be disparted, we
seek to act partially, to sunder, to appropriate; for example,--to
gratify the senses, we sever the pleasure of the senses from the needs
of the character. The ingenuity of man has always been dedicated to
the solution of one problem,--how to detach the sensual sweet, the
sensual strong, the sensual bright, etc., from the moral sweet, the
moral deep, the moral fair; that is, again, to contrive to cut clean
off this upper surface so thin as to leave it bottomless; to get a
_one end_, without an _other end_. The soul says, Eat; the body would
feast. The soul says, The man and woman shall be one flesh and one
soul; the body would join the flesh only. The soul says, Have dominion
over all things to the ends of virtue; the body would have the power
over things to its own ends.

The soul strives amain[109] to live and work through all things. It
would be the only fact. All things shall be added unto it,--power,
pleasure, knowledge, beauty. The particular man aims to be somebody;
to set up for himself; to truck and higgle for a private good; and, in
particulars, to ride, that he may ride; to dress, that he may be
dressed; to eat, that he may eat; and to govern, that he may be seen.
Men seek to be great; they would have offices, wealth, power, and
fame. They think that to be great is to possess one side of
nature,--the sweet, without the other side,--the bitter.

This dividing and detaching is steadily counteracted. Up to this day,
it must be owned, no projector has had the smallest success. The
parted water reunites behind our hand. Pleasure is taken out of
pleasant things, profit out of profitable things, power out of strong
things, as soon as we seek to separate them from the whole. We can no
more have things and get the sensual good, by itself, than we can get
an inside that shall have no outside, or a light without a shadow.
"Drive out nature with a fork, she comes running back."[110]

Life invests itself with inevitable conditions, which the unwise seek
to dodge, which one and another brags that he does not know; that they
do not touch him;--but the brag is on his lips, the conditions are in
his soul. If he escapes them in one part, they attack him in another
more vital part. If he has escaped them in form, and in the
appearance, it is because he has resisted his life, and fled from
himself, and the retribution is so much death. So signal is the
failure of all attempts to make this separation of the good from the
tax, that the experiment would not be tried,--since to try it is to be
mad,--but for the circumstance, that when the disease began in the
will, of rebellion and separation, the intellect is at once infected,
so that the man ceases to see God whole in each object, but is able to
see the sensual allurement of an object, and not see the sensual hurt;
he sees the mermaid's head, but not the dragon's tail; and thinks he
can cut off that which he would have, from that which he would not
have. "How secret art thou who dwellest in the highest heavens in
silence, O thou only great God, sprinkling with an unwearied
Providence certain penal blindnesses upon such as have unbridled

The human soul is true to these facts in the painting of fable, of
history, of law, of proverbs, of conversation. It finds a tongue in
literature unawares. Thus the Greeks called Jupiter,[112] Supreme
Mind; but having traditionally ascribed to him many base actions, they
involuntarily made amends to reason, by tying up the hands[113] of so
bad a god. He is made as helpless as a king of England.[114]
Prometheus[115] knows one secret which Jove must bargain for;
Minerva,[116] another. He cannot get his own thunders; Minerva keeps
the key of them.

   "Of all the gods, I only know the keys
    That ope the solid doors within whose vaults
    His thunders sleep."

A plain confession of the in-working of the All, and of its moral aim.
The Indian mythology ends in the same ethics; and it would seem
impossible for any fable to be invented to get any currency which was
not moral. Aurora[117] forgot to ask youth for her lover, and though
Tithonus is immortal, he is old, Achilles[118] is not quite
invulnerable; the sacred waters did not wash the heel by which Thetis
held him. Siegfried,[119] in the Niebelungen, is not quite immortal,
for a leaf fell on his back whilst he was bathing in the dragon's
blood, and that spot which it covered is mortal. And so it must be.
There is a crack in everything God has made. It would seem, there is
always this vindictive circumstance stealing in at unawares, even into
the wild poesy in which the human fancy attempted to make bold
holiday, and to shake itself free of the old laws,--this back-stroke,
this kick of the gun, certifying that the law is fatal; that in nature
nothing can be given, all things are sold.

This is that ancient doctrine of Nemesis,[120] who keeps watch in the
universe, and lets no offense go unchastised. The Furies,[121] they
said, are attendants on justice, and if the sun in heaven should
transgress his path, they would punish him. The poets related that
stone walls, and iron swords, and leathern thongs had an occult
sympathy with the wrongs of their owners; that the belt which Ajax
gave Hector[122] dragged the Trojan hero over the field at the wheels
of the car of Achilles, and the sword which Hector gave Ajax was that
on whose point Ajax fell. They recorded, that when the Thasians[123]
erected a statue to Theagenes, a victor in the games, one of his
rivals went to it by night, and endeavored to throw it down by
repeated blows, until at last he moved it from its pedestal, and was
crushed to death beneath its fall.

This voice of fable has in it somewhat divine. It came from thought
above the will of the writer. That is the best part of each writer,
which has nothing private in it;[124] that which he does not know,
that which flowed out of his constitution, and not from his too
active invention; that which in the study of a single artist you might
not easily find, but in the study of many, you would abstract as the
spirit of them all. Phidias it is not, but the work of man in that
early Hellenic[125] world, that I would know. The name and
circumstance of Phidias, however convenient for history, embarrass
when we come to the highest criticism. We are to see that which man
was tending to do in a given period, and was hindered, or, if you
will, modified in doing, by the interfering volitions of Phidias, of
Dante, of Shakespeare, the organ whereby man at the moment wrought.

Still more striking is the expression of this fact in the proverbs of
all nations, which are always the literature of reason, or the
statements of an absolute truth, without qualification. Proverbs, like
the sacred books of each nation, are the sanctuary of the intuitions.
That which the droning world, chained to appearances, will not allow
the realist to say in his own words, it will suffer him to say in
proverbs without contradiction. And this law of laws which the pulpit,
the senate, and the college deny, is hourly preached in all markets
and workshops by flights of proverbs, whose teaching is as true and as
omnipresent as that of birds and flies.

All things are double, one against another.--Tit for tat;[126] an eye
for an eye; a tooth for a tooth; blood for blood; measure for measure;
love for love.--Give and it shall be given you.--- He that watereth
shall be watered himself.--What will you have? quoth God; pay for it
and take it.--Nothing venture, nothing have.--Thou shalt be paid
exactly for what thou hast done, no more, no less.--Who doth not work
shall not eat.--Harm watch, harm catch.--Curses always recoil on the
head of him who imprecates them.--If you put a chain around the neck
of a slave, the other end fastens itself around your own.--Bad counsel
confounds the adviser.--The Devil is an ass.

It is thus written, because it is thus in life. Our action is
overmastered and characterized above our will by the law of nature. We
aim at a petty end quite aside from the public good, but our act
arranges itself by irresistible magnetism in a line with the poles of
the world.

A man cannot speak but he judges himself. With his will, or against
his will, he draws his portrait to the eye of his companions by every
word. Every opinion reacts on him who utters it. It is a thread-ball
thrown at a mark, but the other end remains in the thrower's bag. Or,
rather, it is a harpoon hurled at the whale, unwinding, as it flies, a
coil of cord in the boat, and if the harpoon is not good, or not well
thrown, it will go nigh to cut the steersman in twain, or to sink the

You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong. "No man had ever a point
of pride that was not injurious to him," said Burke.[127] The
exclusive in fashionable life does not see that he excludes himself
from enjoyment in the attempt to appropriate it. The exclusionist in
religion does not see that he shuts the door of heaven on himself, in
striving to shut out others. Treat men as pawns[128] and ninepins, and
you shall suffer as well as they. If you leave out their heart, you
shall lose your own. The senses would make things of all persons; of
women, of children, of the poor. The vulgar proverb, "I will get it
from his purse or get it from his skin," is sound philosophy.

All infractions of love and equity in our social relations are
speedily punished. They are punished by fear. Whilst I stand in simple
relations to my fellow-man, I have no displeasure in meeting him. We
meet as water meets water, or as two currents of air mix, with perfect
diffusion and interpenetration of nature. But as soon as there is any
departure from simplicity, and attempt at halfness, or good for me
that is not good for him, my neighbor feels the wrong; he shrinks from
me as far as I have shrunk from him; his eyes no longer seek mine;
there is war between us; there is hate in him and fear in me.

All the old abuses in society, universal and particular, all unjust
accumulations of property and power, are avenged in the same manner.
Fear is an instructor of great sagacity, and the herald of all
revolutions. One thing he teaches, that there is rottenness where he
appears. He is a carrion crow, and though you see not well what he
hovers for, there is death somewhere. Our property is timid, our laws
are timid, our cultivated classes are timid. Fear for ages has boded
and mowed and gibbered over government and property. That obscene[129]
bird is not there for nothing. He indicates great wrongs which must be

Of the like nature is that expectation of change which instantly
follows the suspension of our voluntary activity. The terror of
cloudless noon, the emerald of Polycrates,[130] the awe of prosperity,
the instinct which leads every generous soul to impose on itself tasks
of a noble asceticism and vicarious virtue, are the tremblings of the
balance of justice through the heart and mind of man.

Experienced men of the world know very well that it is best to pay
scot and lot[131] as they go along, and that a man often pays dear for
a small frugality. The borrower runs in his own debt. Has a man gained
anything who has received a hundred favors and rendered none? Has he
gained by borrowing, through indolence or cunning, his neighbor's
wares, or horses, or money? There arises on the deed the instant
acknowledgment of benefit on the one part, and of debt on the other;
that is, of superiority and inferiority. The transaction remains in
the memory of himself and his neighbor; and every new transaction
alters, according to its nature, their relation to each other. He may
soon come to see that he had better have broken his own bones than to
have ridden in his neighbor's coach, and that "the highest price he
can pay for a thing is to ask for it."

A wise man will extend this lesson to all parts of life, and know that
it is the part of prudence to face every claimant, and pay every just
demand on your time, your talents, or your heart. Always pay; for,
first or last, you must pay your entire debt. Persons and events may
stand for a time between you and justice, but it is only a
postponement. You must pay at last your own debt. If you are wise, you
will dread a prosperity which only loads you with more. Benefit is the
end of nature. But for every benefit which you receive, a tax is
levied. He is great who confers the most benefits. He is base--and
that is the one base thing in the universe--to receive favors and
render none. In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those
from whom we receive them, or only seldom.[132] But the benefit we
receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for
cent, to somebody. Beware of too much good staying in your hand. It
will fast corrupt and worm worms.[133] Pay it away quickly in some

Labor is watched over by the same pitiless laws. Cheapest, say the
prudent, is the dearest labor. What we buy in a broom, a mat, a wagon,
a knife, is some application of good sense to a common want. It is
best to pay in your land a skillful gardener, or to buy good sense
applied to gardening; in your sailor, good sense applied to
navigation; in the house, good sense applied to cooking, sewing,
serving; in your agent, good sense applied to accounts and affairs.
So do you multiply your presence, or spread yourself throughout your
estate. But because of the dual constitution of things, in labor as in
life there can be no cheating. The thief steals from himself. The
swindler swindles himself. For the real price of labor is knowledge
and virtue, whereof wealth and credit are signs. These signs, like
paper money, may be counterfeited or stolen, but that which they
represent, namely, knowledge and virtue, cannot be counterfeited or
stolen. These ends of labor cannot be answered but by real exertions
of the mind, and in obedience to pure motives. The cheat, the
defaulter, the gambler, cannot extort the knowledge of material and
moral nature which his honest care and pains yield to the operative.
The law of nature is, Do the thing, and you shall have the power: but
they who do not the thing have not the power.

Human labor, through all its forms, from the sharpening of a stake to
the construction of a city or an epic, is one immense illustration of
the perfect compensation of the universe. The absolute balance of Give
and Take, the doctrine that everything has its price,--and if that
price is not paid, not that thing but something else is obtained, and
that it is impossible to get anything without its price,--is not less
sublime in the columns of a ledger than in the budgets of states, in
the laws of light and darkness, in all the action and reaction of
nature. I cannot doubt that the high laws which each man sees
implicated in those processes with which he is conversant, the stern
ethics which sparkle on his chisel edge, which are measured out by his
plumb and foot rule, which stand as manifest in the footing of the
shop bill as in the history of a state,--do recommend to him his
trade, and though seldom named, exalt his business to his imagination.

The league between virtue and nature engages all things to assume a
hostile front to vice. The beautiful laws and substances of the world
persecute and whip the traitor. He finds that things are arranged for
truth and benefit, but there is no den in the wide world to hide a
rogue. Commit a crime,[134] and the earth is made of glass. Commit a
crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as
reveals in the woods the track of every partridge and fox and squirrel
and mole. You cannot recall the spoken word,[135] you cannot wipe out
the foot-track, you cannot draw up the ladder, so as to leave no inlet
or clew. Some damning circumstance always transpires. The laws and
substances of nature--water, snow, wind, gravitation--become penalties
to the thief.

On the other hand, the law holds with equal sureness for all right
action. Love, and you shall be loved. All love is mathematically just,
as much as the two sides of an algebraic equation. The good man has
absolute good, which like fire turns everything to its own nature, so
that you cannot do him any harm; but as the royal armies sent against
Napoleon, when he approached, cast down their colors and from enemies
became friends, so disasters of all kinds, as sickness, offense,
poverty, prove benefactors:--

              "Winds blow and waters roll
    Strength to the brave, and power and deity,
    Yet in themselves are nothing."

The good are befriended even by weakness and defect. As no man had
ever a point of pride that was not injurious to him, so no man had
ever a defect that was not somewhere made useful to him. The stag in
the fable[136] admired his horns and blamed his feet, but when the
hunter came, his feet saved him, and afterwards, caught in the
thicket, his horns destroyed him. Every man in his lifetime needs to
thank his faults. As no man thoroughly understands a truth until he
has contended against it, so no man has a thorough acquaintance with
the hindrances or talents of men, until he has suffered from the one,
and seen the triumph of the other over his own want of the same. Has
he a defect of temper that unfits him to live in society? Thereby he
is driven to entertain himself alone, and acquire habits of self-help;
and thus, like the wounded oyster, he mends his shell with pearl.

Our strength grows out of our weakness. The indignation which arms
itself with secret forces does not awaken until we are pricked and
stung and sorely assailed. A great man is always willing to be little.
Whilst he sits on the cushion of advantages, he goes to sleep. When he
is punished, tormented, defeated, he has a chance to learn something;
he has been put on his wits, on his manhood; he has gained facts;
learns his ignorance; is cured of the insanity of conceit; has got
moderation and real skill. The wise man throws himself on the side of
his assailants. It is more his interest than it is theirs to find his
weak point. The wound cicatrizes and falls off from him like a dead
skin, and when they would triumph, lo! he has passed on invulnerable.
Blame is safer than praise. I hate to be defended in a newspaper. As
long as all that is said is said against me, I feel a certain
assurance of success. But as soon as honeyed words of praise are
spoken for me, I feel as one that lies unprotected before his enemies.
In general, every evil to which we do not succumb is a benefactor. As
the Sandwich Islander believes that the strength and valor of the
enemy he kills passes into himself, so we gain the strength of the
temptation we resist.

The same guards which protect us from disaster, defect, and enmity,
defend us, if we will, from selfishness and fraud. Bolts and bars are
not the best of our institutions, nor is shrewdness in trade a mark of
wisdom. Men suffer all their life long, under the foolish superstition
that they can be cheated. But it is as impossible for a man to be
cheated by anyone but himself,[137] as for a thing to be and not to be
at the same time. There is a third silent party to all our bargains.
The nature and soul of things takes on itself the guaranty of the
fulfillment of every contract, so that honest service cannot come to
loss. If you serve an ungrateful master, serve him the more. Put God
in your debt. Every stroke shall be repaid. The longer the payment is
withholden,[138] the better for you; for compound interest on compound
interest is the rate and usage of this exchequer.

The history of persecution is a history of endeavors to cheat nature,
to make water run up hill, to twist a rope of sand. It makes no
difference whether the actors be many or one, a tyrant or a mob. A
mob[139] is a society of bodies voluntarily bereaving themselves of
reason, and traversing its work. The mob is man voluntarily descending
to the nature of the beast. Its fit hour of activity is night. Its
actions are insane like its whole constitution; it persecutes a
principle; it would whip a right; it would tar and feather justice, by
inflicting fire and outrage upon the houses and persons of those who
have these. It resembles the prank of boys, who run with fire engines
to put out the ruddy aurora streaming to the stars. The inviolate
spirit turns their spite against the wrongdoers. The martyr cannot be
dishonored. Every lash inflicted is a tongue of fame; every prison, a
more illustrious abode; every burned book or house enlightens the
world; every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the
earth from side to side. Hours of sanity and consideration are always
arriving to communities, as to individuals, when the truth is seen,
and the martyrs are justified.

Thus do all things preach the indifferency of circumstances. The man
is all. Everything has two sides, a good and an evil. Every advantage
has its tax. I learn to be content. But the doctrine of compensation
is not the doctrine of indifferency. The thoughtless say, on hearing
these representations, What boots it to do well? there is one event to
good and evil; if I gain any good, I must pay for it; if I lose any
good, I gain some other; all actions are indifferent.

There is a deeper fact in the soul than compensation, to wit, its own
nature. The soul is not a compensation, but a life. The soul _is_.
Under all this running sea of circumstance, whose waters ebb and flow
with perfect balance, lies the aboriginal abyss of real Being.
Essence, or God, is not a relation, or a part, but the whole. Being is
the vast affirmative, excluding negation, self-balanced, and
swallowing up all relations, parts, and times within itself. Nature,
truth, virtue, are the influx from thence. Vice is the absence or
departure of the same. Nothing, Falsehood, may indeed stand as the
great Night or shade, on which, as a background, the living universe
paints itself forth, but no fact is begotten by it; it cannot work,
for it is not. It cannot work any good; it cannot work any harm. It is
harm inasmuch as it is worse not to be than to be.

We feel defrauded of the retribution due to evil acts, because the
criminal adheres to his vice and contumacy, and does not come to a
crisis or judgment anywhere in visible nature. There is no stunning
confutation of his nonsense before men and angels. Has he therefore
outwitted the law? Inasmuch as he carries the malignity and the lie
with him, he so far deceases from nature. In some manner there will be
a demonstration of the wrong to the understanding also; but should we
not see it, this deadly deduction makes square the eternal account.

Neither can it be said, on the other hand, that the gain of rectitude
must be bought by any loss. There is no penalty to virtue; no penalty
to wisdom; they are proper additions of being. In a virtuous action, I
properly _am_; in a virtuous act, I add to the world; I plant into
deserts conquered from Chaos and Nothing, and see the darkness
receding on the limits of the horizon. There can be no excess to love;
none to knowledge; none to beauty, when these attributes are
considered in the purest sense. The soul refuses limits, and always
affirms an Optimism,[140] never a Pessimism.

Man's life is a progress, and not a station. His instinct is trust.
Our instinct uses "more" and "less" in application to man, of the
_presence of the soul_, and not of its absence; the brave man is
greater than the coward; the true, the benevolent, the wise, is more a
man, and not less, than the fool and knave. There is no tax on the
good of virtue; for that is the incoming of God himself, or absolute
existence without any comparative. Material good has its tax, and if
it came without desert or sweat, has no root in me, and the next wind
will blow it away. But all the good of nature is the soul's, and may
be had, if paid for in nature's lawful coin, that is, by labor which
the heart and the head allow. I no longer wish to meet a good I do not
earn; for example, to find a pot of buried gold, knowing that it
brings with it new burdens. I do not wish more external
goods,--neither possessions, nor honors, nor powers, nor persons. The
gain is apparent; the tax is certain. But there is no tax on the
knowledge that the compensation exists, and that it is not desirable
to dig up treasure. Herein I rejoice with a serene eternal peace. I
contract the boundaries of possible mischief. I learn the wisdom of
St. Bernard,[141]--"Nothing can, work me damage except myself; the
harm, that I sustain I carry about with me, and never am a real
sufferer but by my own fault."

In the nature of the soul is the compensation for the inequalities of
condition. The radical tragedy of nature seems to be the distinction
of More and Less. How can Less not feel the pain; how not feel
indignation or malevolence towards More? Look at those who have less
faculty, and one feels sad, and knows not well what to make of it. He
almost shuns their eye; he fears they will upbraid God. What should
they do? It seems a great injustice. But see the facts nearly, and
these mountainous inequalities vanish. Love reduces them, as the sun
melts the iceberg in the sea. The heart and soul of all men being one,
this bitterness of _His_ and _Mine_ ceases. His is mine. I am my
brother, and my brother is me. If I feel overshadowed and outdone by
great neighbors, I can yet love; I can still receive; and he that
loveth maketh his own the grandeur he loves. Thereby I make the
discovery that my brother is my guardian, acting for me with the
friendliest designs, and the estate I so admired and envied is my own.
It is the nature of the soul to appropriate all things. Jesus[142] and
Shakespeare are fragments of the soul, and by love I conquer and
incorporate them in my own conscious domain. His[143] virtue,--is not
that mine? His wit,--if it cannot be made mine, it is not wit.

Such, also, is the natural history of calamity. The changes which
break up at short intervals the prosperity of men are advertisements
of a nature whose law is growth. Every soul is by this intrinsic
necessity quitting its whole system of things, its friends, and home,
and laws, and faith, as the shellfish crawls out of its beautiful but
stony case, because it no longer admits of its growth, and slowly
forms a new house. In proportion to the vigor of the individual, these
revolutions are frequent, until in some happier mind they are
incessant, and all worldly relations hang very loosely about him,
becoming, as it were, a transparent fluid membrane through which the
living form is seen, and not, as in most men, an indurated
heterogeneous fabric of many dates, and of no settled character, in
which the man is imprisoned. Then there can be enlargement, and the
man of to-day scarcely recognizes the man of yesterday. And such
should be the outward biography of man in time, a putting off of dead
circumstances day by day, as he renews his raiment day by day. But to
us, in our lapsed estate, resting, not advancing, resisting, not
cooeperating with the divine expansion, this growth comes by shocks.

We cannot part with our friend. We cannot let our angels go. We do not
see that they only go out, that archangels may come in. We are
idolaters of the old. We do not believe in the riches of the soul, in
its proper eternity and omnipresence. We do not believe there is any
force in to-day to rival or recreate that beautiful yesterday. We
linger in the ruins of the old tent, where once we had bread and
shelter and organs, nor believe that the spirit can feed, cover, and
nerve us again. We cannot again find aught so dear, so sweet, so
graceful. But we sit and weep in vain. The voice of the Almighty
saith, "Up and onward forevermore!" We cannot stay amid the ruins.
Neither will we rely on the new; and so we walk ever with reverted
eyes, like those monsters who look backwards.

And yet the compensations of calamity are made apparent to the
understanding also, after long intervals of time. A fever, a
mutilation, a cruel disappointment, a loss of wealth, a loss of
friends, seems at the moment unpaid loss, and unpayable. But the sure
years reveal the deep remedial force that underlies all facts. The
death of a dear friend, wife, brother, lover, which seemed nothing but
privation, somewhat later assumes the aspect of a guide or genius;
for it commonly operates revolutions in our way of life, terminates an
epoch of infancy or of youth which was waiting to be closed, breaks up
a wonted occupation, or a household, or style of living, and allows
the formation of new ones more friendly to the growth of character. It
permits or constrains the formation of new acquaintances, and the
reception of new influences that prove of the first importance to the
next years; and the man or woman who would have remained a sunny
garden flower, with no room for its roots and too much sunshine for
its head, by the falling of the walls and the neglect of the gardener,
is made the banyan[144] of the forest, yielding shade and fruit to
wide neighborhoods of men.


"Ne te quaesiveris extra."[145]

    "Man is his own star; and the soul that can
    Render an honest and a perfect man,
    Commands all light, all influence, all fate;
    Nothing to him falls early or too late.
    Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
    Our fatal shadows that walk by us still."[146]

       *       *       *       *       *

      Cast the bantling on the rocks,
      Suckle him with the she-wolf's teat;
      Wintered with the hawk and fox,
      Power and speed be hands and feet.[147]

I read the other day some verses written by an eminent painter which
were original and not conventional. The soul always hears an
admonition in such lines, let the subject be what it may. The
sentiment they instill is of more value than any thought they may
contain. To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for
you in your private heart is true for all men,--that is genius.[148]
Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal
sense;[149] for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost,--and our
first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last
Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest
merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato,[150] and Milton[151] is, that they
set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men, but what
they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of
light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster
of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice
his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize
our own rejected thoughts:[152] they come back to us with a certain
alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson
for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression
with good-humored inflexibility then most when[153] the whole cry of
voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with
masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the
time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from

There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the
conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide;[154]
that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that
though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn
can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground
which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new
in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor
does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one
character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none.
This sculpture in the memory is not without preestablished harmony.
The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of
that particular ray. We but half express ourselves,[155] and are
ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be
safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be
faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by
cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his
work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise shall
give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the
attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no

Trust thyself:[156] every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept
the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your
contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done
so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age,
betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated
at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all
their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind
the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a
protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides,
redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing
on Chaos[157] and the Dark.

What pretty oracles nature yields us on this text, in the face and
behavior of children, babes, and even brutes! That divided and rebel
mind, that distrust of a sentiment because our arithmetic has computed
the strength and means opposed to our purpose, these[158] have not.
Their mind being whole, their eye is as yet unconquered, and when we
look in their faces we are disconcerted. Infancy conforms to nobody:
all conform to it, so that one babe commonly makes four or five[159]
out of the adults who prattle and play to it. So God has armed youth
and puberty and manhood no less with its own piquancy and charm, and
made it enviable and gracious and its claims not to be put by, if it
will stand by itself. Do not think the youth has no force, because he
cannot speak to you and me. Hark! in the next room his voice is
sufficiently clear and emphatic. It seems he knows how to speak to his
contemporaries. Bashful or bold, then, he will know how to make us
seniors very unnecessary.

The nonchalance[160] of boys who are sure of a dinner, and would
disdain as much as a lord to do or say aught to conciliate one, is the
healthy attitude of human nature. A boy is in the parlor what the pit
is in the playhouse;[161] independent, irresponsible, looking out from
his corner on such people and facts as pass by, he tries and sentences
them on their merits, in the swift, summary way of boys, as good, bad,
interesting, silly, eloquent, troublesome. He cumbers himself never
about consequences about interests; he gives an independent, genuine
verdict. You must court him: he does not court you. But the man is, as
it were, clapped into jail by his consciousness. As soon as he has
once acted or spoken with _eclat_[162] he is a committed person,
watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds, whose affections
must now enter into his account. There is no Lethe[163] for this. Ah,
that he could pass again into his neutrality! Who[164] can thus avoid
all pledges, and having observed, observe again from the same
unaffected, unbiased, unbribable, unaffrighted innocence, must always
be formidable. He would utter opinions on all passing affairs, which
being seen to be not private, but necessary, would sink like darts
into the ear of men, and put them in fear.

These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint
and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in
conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is
a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better
securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty
and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity.
Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators,
but names and customs.

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.[165] He who would gather
immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must
explore if it be goodness.[166] Nothing is at last sacred but the
integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall
have the suffrage[167] of the world. I remember an answer which when
quite young I was prompted to make to a valued adviser, who was wont
to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. On my
saying, What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live
wholly from within? my friend suggested: "But these impulses may be
from below, not from above." I replied: "They do not seem to me to be
such; but if I am the Devil's child, I will live then from the Devil."
No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but
names very readily transferable to that or this;[168] the only right
is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A
man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if
everything were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think
how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and
dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and
sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and
speak the rude truth in all ways. If malice and vanity wear the coat
of philanthropy, shall that pass? If an angry bigot assumes this
bountiful cause of Abolition, and comes to me with his last news from
Barbadoes,[169] why should I not say to him: "Go love thy infant; love
thy wood-chopper: be good-natured and modest: have that grace; and
never varnish your hard, uncharitable ambition with this incredible
tenderness for black folk a thousand miles off. Thy love afar is
spite at home." Rough and graceless would be such greeting, but truth
is handsomer than the affectation of love. Your goodness must have
some edge to it,--else it is none. The doctrine of hatred must be
preached as the counteraction of the doctrine of love when that pules
and whines. I shun father and mother and wife and brother, when my
genius calls me. I would write on the lintels of the door-post,
_Whim_.[170] I hope it is somewhat better than whim at last, but we
cannot spend the day in explanation. Expect me not to show cause why I
seek or why I exclude company. Then, again, do not tell me, as a good
man did to-day, of my obligation to put all poor men in good
situations. Are they _my_ poor? I tell thee, thou foolish
philanthropist, that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent, I give
to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. There
is a class of persons to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought
and sold; for them I will go to prison, if need be; but your
miscellaneous popular charities; the education at college of fools;
the building of meeting-houses to the vain end to which many now
stand; alms to sots; and the thousand-fold Relief Societies;--though I
confess with shame I sometimes succumb and give the dollar, it is a
wicked dollar which by and by I shall have the manhood to withhold.

Virtues are, in the popular estimate, rather the exception than the
rule. There is the man _and_ his virtues. Men do what is called a good
action, as some piece of courage or charity, much as they would pay a
fine in expiation of daily non-appearance on parade. Their works are
done as an apology or extenuation of their living in the world,--as
invalids and the insane pay a high board. Their virtues are penances.
I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not
for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so
it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and
unsteady. I wish it to be sound and sweet, and not to need diet and
bleeding.[171] I ask primary evidence that you are a man, and refuse
this appeal from the man to his actions. I know that for myself it
makes no difference whether I do or forbear those actions which are
reckoned excellent. I cannot consent to pay for a privilege where I
have intrinsic right. Few and mean as my gifts may be, I actually am,
and do not need for my own assurance or the assurance of my fellows
any secondary testimony.

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.
This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may
serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is
the harder, because you will always find those who think they know
what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to
live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after
our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps
with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.[172]

The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is,
that it scatters your force. It loses your time and blurs the
impression of your character. If you maintain a dead church,
contribute to a dead Bible-society, vote with a great party either for
the government or against it, spread your table like base
housekeepers,--under all these screens I have difficulty to detect the
precise[173] man you are. And, of course, so much force is withdrawn
from your proper life. But do your work, and I shall know you.[174] Do
your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. A man must consider what
a blindman's-buff is this game of conformity. If I know your sect, I
anticipate your argument. I hear a preacher announce for his text and
topic the expediency of one of the institutions of his church. Do I
not know beforehand that not possibly can he say a new and spontaneous
word? Do I not know that, with[175] all this ostentation of examining
the grounds of the institution, he will do no such thing? Do I not
know that he is pledged to himself not to look but at one side,--the
permitted side, not as a man, but as a parish minister? He is a
retained attorney, and these airs of the bench[176] are the emptiest
affectation. Well, most men have bound their eyes with one or another
handkerchief,[177] and attached themselves to some one of these
communities of opinion.[178] This conformity makes them not false in a
few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars.
Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two,
their four not the real four; so that every word they say chagrins us,
and we know not where to begin to set them right. Meantime nature is
not slow to equip us in the prison-uniform of the party to which we
adhere. We come to wear one cut of face and figure, and acquire by
degrees the gentlest asinine expression. There is a mortifying
experience in particular which does not fail to wreak itself also in
the general history; I mean "the foolish face of praise," the forced
smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease in
answer to conversation which does not interest us. The muscles, not
spontaneously moved, but moved by a low usurping willfulness, grow
tight about the outline of the face with the most disagreeable

For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure.[179] And
therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face. The bystanders
look askance on him in the public street or in the friend's parlor. If
this aversation had its origin in contempt and resistance like his
own, he might well go home with a sad countenance; but the sour faces
of the multitude, like their sweet faces, have no deep cause, but are
put on and off as the wind blows and a newspaper directs.[180] Yet is
the discontent of the multitude more formidable than that of the
senate and the college. It is easy enough for a firm man who knows the
world to brook the rage of the cultivated classes. Their rage is
decorous and prudent, for they are timid as being very vulnerable
themselves. But when to their feminine rage the indignation of the
people is added, when the ignorant and the poor are aroused, when the
unintelligent brute force that lies at the bottom of society is made
to growl and mow, it needs the habit of magnanimity and religion to
treat it godlike as a trifle of no concernment.

The other terror[181] that scares us from self-trust is our
consistency;[182] a reverence for our past act or word, because the
eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit[183] than
our past acts, and we are loth to disappoint them.

But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about
this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat[184] you have
stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict
yourself; what then? It seems to be a rule of wisdom never to rely on
your memory alone, scarcely even in acts of pure memory, but to bring
the past for judgment into the thousand-eyed present, and live ever in
a new day. In your metaphysics you have denied personality to the
Deity; yet when the devout motions of the soul come, yield to them
heart and life, though they should clothe God with shape and color.
Leave your theory, as Joseph his coat in the hand of the harlot, and

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by
little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a
great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself
with the shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words,
and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though
it contradict everything you said to-day.--"Ah, so you shall be sure
to be misunderstood."--Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?
Pythagoras[186] was misunderstood, and Socrates,[187] and Jesus, and
Luther,[188] and Copernicus,[189] and Galileo,[190] and Newton,[191]
and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to
be misunderstood.

I suppose no man can violate his nature. All the sallies of his will
are rounded in by the law of his being, as the inequalities of
Andes[192] and Himmaleh[193] are insignificant in the curve of the
sphere. Nor does it matter how you gauge and try him. A character is
like an acrostic or Alexandrian stanza;[194]--read it forward,
backward, or across, it still spells the same thing. In this pleasing,
contrite wood-life which God allows me, let me record day by day my
honest thought without prospect or retrospect, and, I cannot doubt, it
will be found symmetrical, though I mean it not, and see it not. My
book should smell of pines and resound with the hum of insects. The
swallow over my window should interweave that thread or straw he
carries in his bill into my web also. We pass for what we are.
Character teaches above our wills. Men imagine that they communicate
their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue
or vice emit a breath every moment.

There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be
each honest and natural in their hour. For of one will, the actions
will be harmonious, however unlike they seem. These varieties are lost
sight of at a little distance, at a little height of thought. One
tendency unites them all. The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line
of a hundred tacks.[195] See the line from a sufficient distance, and
it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action
will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your
conformity explains nothing. Act singly, and what you have already
done singly will justify you now. Greatness appeals to the future. If
I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes,[196] I must
have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will,
do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. The force
of character is cumulative. All the foregone days of virtue work their
health into this. What makes the majesty of the heroes of the senate
and the field, which so fills the imagination? The consciousness of a
train of great days and victories behind. They shed an united light on
the advancing actor. He is attended as by a visible escort of angels.
That is it which throws thunder into Chatham's[197] voice, and dignity
into Washington's port, and America into Adams's[198] eye. Honor is
venerable to us because it is no ephemeris. It is always ancient
virtue. We worship it to-day because it is not of to-day. We love it
and pay it homage, because it is not a trap for our love and homage,
but is self-dependent, self-derived, and therefore of an old
immaculate pedigree, even if shown in a young person.

I hope in these days we have heard the last of conformity and
consistency. Let the words be gazetted and ridiculous henceforward.
Instead of the gong for dinner, let us hear a whistle from the
Spartan[199] fife. Let us never bow and apologize more. A great man is
coming to eat at my house. I do not wish to please him; I wish that he
should wish to please me. I will stand here for humanity, and though I
would make it kind, I would make it true. Let us affront and reprimand
the smooth mediocrity and squalid contentment of the times, and hurl
in the face of custom, and trade, and office, the fact which is the
upshot of all history, that there is a great responsible Thinker and
Actor working wherever a man works; that a true man belongs to no
other time or place, but is the center of things. Where he is, there
is nature. He measures you, and all men, and all events. Ordinarily,
everybody in society reminds us of somewhat else, or of some other
person. Character, reality, reminds you of nothing else; it takes
place of the whole creation. The man must be so much, that he must
make all circumstances indifferent. Every true man is a cause, a
country, and an age; requires infinite spaces and numbers and time
fully to accomplish his design;--and posterity seem to follow his
steps as a train of clients. A man Caesar[200] is born, and for ages
after we have a Roman Empire. Christ is born, and millions of minds
so grow and cleave to his genius, that he is confounded with virtue
and the possible of man. An institution is the lengthened shadow of
one man; as Monachism, of the hermit Antony;[201] the Reformation, of
Luther; Quakerism, of Fox;[202] Methodism, of Wesley;[203] Abolition,
of Clarkson.[204] Scipio,[205] Milton called "the height of Rome"; and
all history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few
stout and earnest persons.

Let a man then know his worth, and keep things under his feet. Let him
not peep or steal, or skulk up and down with the air of a charity-boy,
a bastard, or an interloper, in the world which exists for him. But
the man in the street, finding no worth in himself which corresponds
to the force which built a tower or sculptured a marble god, feels
poor when he looks on these. To him a palace, a statue, a costly book,
have an alien and forbidding air, much like a gay equipage, and seem
to say like that, "Who are you, Sir?" Yet they all are his, suitors
for his notice, petitioners to his faculties that they will come out
and take possession. The picture waits for my verdict: it is not to
command me, but I am to settle its claims to praise. That popular
fable of the sot who was picked up dead drunk in the street, carried
to the duke's house, washed and dressed and laid in the duke's bed,
and, on his waking, treated with all obsequious ceremony like the
duke, and assured that he had been insane,[206] owes its popularity to
the fact that it symbolizes so well the state of man, who is in the
world a sort of sot, but now and then wakes up, exercises his reason,
and finds himself a true prince.

Our reading is mendicant and sycophantic. In history, our imagination
plays us false. Kingdom and lordship, power and estate, are a gaudier
vocabulary than private John and Edward in a small house and common
day's work; but the things of life are the same to both; the sum total
of both is the same. Why all this deference to Alfred,[207] and
Scanderbeg,[208] and Gustavus?[209] Suppose they were virtuous; did
they wear out virtue? As great a stake depends on your private act
to-day, as followed their public and renowned steps. When private men
shall act with original views, the luster will be transferred from the
actions of kings to those of gentlemen.

The world has been instructed by its kings, who have so magnetized the
eyes of nations. It has been taught by this colossal symbol the mutual
reverence that is due from man to man. The joyful loyalty with which
men have everywhere suffered the king, the noble, or the great
proprietor to walk among them by a law of his own, make his own scale
of men and things, and reverse theirs, pay for benefits not with money
but with honor, and represent the law in his person, was the
hieroglyphic[210] by which they obscurely signified their
consciousness of their own right and comeliness, the right of every

The magnetism which all original action exerts is explained when we
inquire the reason of self-trust. Who is the Trustee? What is the
aboriginal Self, on which a universal reliance may be grounded? What
is the nature and power of that science-baffling star, without
parallax,[211] without calculable elements, which shoots a ray of
beauty even into trivial and impure actions, if the least mark of
independence appear? The inquiry leads us to that source, at once the
essence of genius, of virtue, and of life, which we call Spontaneity
or Instinct. We denote this primary wisdom as Intuition, whilst all
later teachings are tuitions. In that deep force, the last fact behind
which analysis cannot go, all things find their common origin. For the
sense of being which in calm hours rises, we know not how, in the
soul, is not diverse from things, from space, from light, from time,
from man, but one with them, and proceeds obviously from the same
source whence their life and being also proceed. We first share the
life by which things exist, and afterwards see them as appearances in
nature, and forget that we have shared their cause. Here is the
fountain of action and of thought. Here are the lungs of that
inspiration which giveth man wisdom, and which cannot be denied
without impiety and atheism. We lie in the lap of immense
intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its
activity. When we discern justice, when we discern truth, we do
nothing of ourselves, but allow a passage to its beams. If we ask
whence this comes, if we seek to pry into the soul that causes, all
philosophy is at fault. Its presence or its absence is all we can
affirm. Every man discriminates between the voluntary acts of his
mind, and his involuntary perceptions, and knows that to his
involuntary perceptions a perfect faith is due. He may err in the
expression of them, but he knows that these things are so, like day
and night, not to be disputed. My willful actions and acquisitions are
but roving;--the idlest reverie, the faintest native emotion, command
my curiosity and respect. Thoughtless people contradict as readily the
statement of perceptions as of opinions, or rather much more readily;
for, they do not distinguish between perception and notion. They fancy
that I choose to see this or that thing. But perception is not
whimsical, it is fatal. If I see a trait, my children will see it
after me, and in course of time, all mankind,--although it may chance
that no one has seen it before me. For my perception of it is as much
a fact as the sun.

The relations of the soul to the divine spirit are so pure, that it is
profane to seek to interpose helps. It must be that when God speaketh
he should communicate, not one thing, but all things; should fill the
world with his voice; should scatter forth light, nature, time, souls,
from the center of the present thought; and new date and new create
the whole. Whenever a mind is simple, and receives a divine wisdom,
old things pass away,--means, teachers, texts, temples, fall; it lives
now, and absorbs past and future into the present hour. All things are
made sacred by relation to it,--one as much as another. All things
are dissolved to their center by their cause, and, in the universal
miracle, petty and particular miracles disappear. If, therefore, a man
claims to know and speak of God, and carries you backward to the
phraseology of some old moldered nation in another country, in another
world, believe him not. Is the acorn better than the oak which is its
fullness and completion? Is the parent better than the child into whom
he has cast his ripened being?[212] Whence, then, this worship of the
past?[213] The centuries are conspirators against the sanity and
authority of the soul. Time and space are but physiological colors
which the eye makes, but the soul is light; where it is, is day; where
it was, is night; and history is an impertinence and an injury, if it
be anything more than a cheerful apologue or parable of my being and

Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say
"I think," "I am," but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before
the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window
make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what
they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There
is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence.
Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown
flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its
nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike.
But man postpones, or remembers; he does not live in the present, but
with a reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that
surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be
happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above

This should be plain enough. Yet see what strong intellects dare not
yet hear God himself, unless he speak the phraseology of I know not
what David, or Jeremiah, or Paul. We shall not always set so great a
price on a few texts, on a few lives.[214] We are like children who
repeat by rote the sentences of grandames and tutors, and, as they
grow older, of the men and talents and characters they chance to
see,--painfully recollecting the exact words they spoke; afterwards,
when they come into the point of view which those had who uttered
those saying, they understand them, and are willing to let the words
go; for, at any time, they can use words as good when occasion comes.
If we live truly, we shall see truly. It is as easy for the strong man
to be strong, as it is for the weak to be weak. When we have new
perception, we shall gladly disburden the memory of its hoarded
treasures as old rubbish. When a man lives with God, his voice shall
be as sweet as the murmur of the brook and the rustle of the corn.

And now at last the highest truth on this subject remains unsaid;
probably cannot be said; for all that we say is the far-off
remembering of the intuition. That thought, by what I can now nearest
approach to say it, is this. When good is near you, when you have
life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall
not discern the footprints of any other; you shall not see the face of
man; you shall not hear any name;--the way, the thought, the good,
shall be wholly strange and new. It shall exclude example and
experience. You take the way from man, not to man. All persons that
ever existed are its forgotten ministers. Fear and hope are alike
beneath it. There is somewhat low even in hope. In the hour of vision,
there is nothing that can be called gratitude, nor properly joy. The
soul raised over passion beholds identity and eternal causation,
perceives the self-existence of Truth and Right, and calms itself with
knowing that all things go well. Vast spaces of nature, the Atlantic
Ocean, the South Sea,--long intervals of time, years, centuries,--are
of no account. This which I think and feel underlay every former state
of life and circumstances, as it does underlie my present, and what is
called life, and what is called death.

Life only avails, not the having lived. Power ceases in the instant of
repose; it resides in the moment of transition from a past to a new
state, in the shooting of the gulf, in the darting to an aim. This one
fact the world hates, that the soul _becomes_; for that forever
degrades the past, turns all riches to poverty, all reputation to
shame, confounds the saint with the rogue, shoves Jesus and Judas[215]
equally aside. Why, then, do we prate of self-reliance? Inasmuch as
the soul is present, there will be power not confident but agent.[216]
To talk of reliance is a poor external way of speaking. Speak rather
of that which relies, because it works and is. Who has more obedience
than I masters me, though he should not raise his finger. Round him I
must revolve by the gravitation of spirits. We fancy it rhetoric, when
we speak of eminent virtue. We do not yet see that virtue is Height,
and that a man or a company of men, plastic and permeable to
principles, by the law of nature must overpower and ride all cities,
nations, kings, rich men, poets, who are not.

This is the ultimate fact which we so quickly reach on this, as on
every topic, the resolution of all into the ever-blessed ONE.
Self-existence is the attribute of the Supreme Cause, and it
constitutes the measure of good by the degree in which it enters into
all lower forms. All things real are so by so much virtue as they
contain. Commerce, husbandry, hunting, whaling, war eloquence,
personal weight, are somewhat, and engage my respect as examples of
its presence and impure action. I see the same law working in nature
for conservation and growth. Power is in nature the essential measure
of right. Nature suffers nothing to remain in her kingdoms which
cannot help itself. The genesis and maturation of a planet, its poise
and orbit, the bended tree recovering itself from the strong wind, the
vital resources of every animal and vegetable, are demonstrations of
the self-sufficing, and therefore self-relying soul.

Thus all concentrates: let us not rove; let us sit at home with the
cause. Let us stun and astonish the intruding rabble of men and books
and institutions, by a simple declaration of the divine fact. Bid the
invaders take the shoes from off their feet, for God is here
within.[217] Let our simplicity judge them, and our docility to our
own law demonstrate the poverty of nature and fortune beside our
native riches.

But now we are a mob. Man does not stand in awe of man, nor is his
genius admonished to stay at home to put itself in communication with
the internal ocean, but it goes abroad to beg a cup of water of the
urns of other men. We must go alone. I like the silent church before
the service begins, better than any preaching. How far off, how cool,
how chaste the persons look, begirt each one with a precinct or
sanctuary! So let us always sit. Why should we assume the faults of
our friend, or wife, or father, or child, because they sit around our
hearth, or are said to have the same blood? All men have my blood, and
I have all men's.[218] Not for that will I adopt their petulance or
folly, even to the extent of being ashamed of it. But your isolation
must not be mechanical, but spiritual, that is, must be elevation. At
times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with
emphatic trifles. Friend, client, child, sickness, fear, want,
charity, all knock at once at thy closet door, and say, "Come out unto
us." But keep thy state; come not into their confusion. The power men
possess to annoy men, I give them by a weak curiosity. No man can
come near me but through my act. "What we love that we have, but by
desire we bereave ourselves of the love."

If we cannot at once rise to the sanctities of obedience and faith,
let us at least resist our temptations; let us enter into the state of
war, and wake Thor and Woden,[219] courage and constancy, in our Saxon
breasts. This is to be done in our smooth times by speaking the truth.
Check this lying hospitality and lying affection. Live no longer to
the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people with whom we
converse. Say to them, O father, O mother, O wife, O brother, O
friend, I have lived with you after appearances hitherto. Henceforward
I am the truth's. Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no law
less than the eternal law. I will have no covenants but
proximities.[220] I shall endeavor to nourish my parents, to support
my family, to be the chaste husband of one wife,--but these relations
I must fill after a new and unprecedented way. I appeal from your
customs. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you,
or you.[221] If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the
happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should.
I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is
deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever
inly rejoices me, and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will
love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by
hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth
with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not
selfishly, but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine,
and all men's however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth.
Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by
your nature as well as mine, and, if we follow the truth, it will
bring us out safe at last.[222] But so may you give these friends
pain. Yes, but I cannot sell my liberty and my power, to save their
sensibility. Besides, all persons have their moments of reason, when
they look out into the region of absolute truth; then will they
justify me, and do the same thing.

The populace think that your rejection of popular standards is a
rejection of all standard, and mere antinomianism;[223] and the bold
sensualist will use the name of philosophy to gild his crimes. But the
law of consciousness abides. There are two confessionals, in one or
the other of which we must be shriven. You may fulfill your round of
duties by clearing yourself in the _direct_, or in the _reflex_ way.
Consider whether you have satisfied your relations to father, mother,
cousin, neighbor, town, cat, and dog; whether any of these can upbraid
you. But I may also neglect this reflex standard, and absolve me to
myself. I have my own stern claims and perfect circle. It denies the
name of duty to many offices that are called duties. But if I can
discharge its debts, it enables me to dispense with the popular code.
If any one imagines that this law is lax, let him keep its
commandment one day.

And truly it demands something godlike in him who has cast off the
common motives of humanity, and has ventured to trust himself for a
taskmaster. High be his heart, faithful his will, clear his sight,
that he may in good earnest be doctrine, society, law, to himself,
that a simple purpose may be to him as strong as iron necessity is to

If any man consider the present aspects of what is called by
distinction _society_, he will see the need of these ethics. The sinew
and heart of man seem to be drawn out, and we are become timorous,
desponding whimperers. We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune,
afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and
perfect persons. We want men and women who shall renovate life and our
social state, but we see that most natures are insolvent, cannot
satisfy their own wants, have an ambition out of all proportion to
their practical force,[224] and do lean and beg day and night
continually. Our housekeeping is mendicant, our arts, our occupations,
our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has
chosen for us. We are parlor soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of
fate, where strength is born.

If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all
heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is _ruined_. If the
finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in
an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of
Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is
right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life.
A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the
professions, who _teams it, farms it_,[225] _peddles_, keeps a school,
preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so
forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet,
is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his
days, and feels no shame in not "studying a profession," for he does
not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a
hundred chances. Let a Stoic[226] open the resources of man, and tell
men they are not leaning willows, but can and must detach themselves;
that with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear; that a
man is the word made flesh,[227] born to shed healing to the
nations,[228] that he should be ashamed of our compassion, and that
the moment he acts from himself, tossing the laws, the books,
idolatries and customs out of the window, we pity him no more, but
thank and revere him,--and that teacher shall restore the life of man
to splendor, and make his name dear to all history.

It is easy to see that a greater self-reliance must work a revolution
in all the offices and relations of men; in their religion; in their
education; in their pursuits; their modes of living; their
association; in their property; in their speculative views.

1. In what prayers do men allow themselves![229] That which they call
a holy office is not so much as brave and manly. Prayer looks abroad
and asks for some foreign addition to come through some foreign
virtue, and loses itself in endless mazes of natural and supernatural,
and mediatorial and miraculous. Prayer that craves a particular
commodity,--anything less than all good,--is vicious. Prayer is the
contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view. It
is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul.[230] It is the
spirit of God pronouncing his works good. But prayer as a means to
effect a private end is meanness and theft. It supposes dualism and
not unity in nature and consciousness. As soon as the man is at one
with God, he will not beg. He will then see prayer in all action. The
prayer of the farmer kneeling in his field to weed it, the prayer of
the rower kneeling with the stroke of his oar, are true prayers heard
throughout nature, though for cheap ends. Caratach,[231] in Fletcher's
Bonduca, when admonished to inquire the mind of the god Audate,

   "His hidden meaning lies in our endeavors;
    Our valors are our best gods."

Another sort of false prayers are our regrets. Discontent is the want
of self-reliance; it is infirmity of will. Regret calamities, if you
can thereby help the sufferer; if not, attend your own work, and
already the evil begins to be repaired. Our sympathy is just as base.
We come to them who weep foolishly, and sit down and cry for company,
instead of imparting to them truth and health in rough electric
shocks, putting them once more in communication with their own reason.
The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. Welcome evermore to gods
and men is the self-helping man. For him all doors are flung wide: him
all tongues greet, all honors crown, all eyes follow with desire. Our
love goes out to him and embraces him, because he did not need it. We
solicitously and apologetically caress and celebrate him, because he
held on his way and scorned our disapprobation. The gods love him
because men hated him. "To the persevering mortal," said
Zoroaster,[232] "the blessed Immortals are swift."

As men's prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a
disease of the intellect. They say with those foolish Israelites, "Let
not God speak to us, lest we die. Speak thou, speak any man with us, and
we will obey."[233] Everywhere I am hindered of meeting God in my
brother, because he has shut his own temple doors, and recites fables
merely of his brother's, or his brother's brother's God. Every new mind
is a new classification. If it prove a mind of uncommon activity and
power, a Locke,[234] a Lavoisier,[235] a Hutton,[236] a Betham,[237] a
Fourier,[238] it imposes its classification on other men, and lo! a new
system. In proportion to the depth of the thought, and so to the number
of the objects it touches and brings within reach of the pupil, is his
complacency. But chiefly is this apparent in creeds and churches, which
are also classifications of some powerful mind acting on the elemental
thought of duty, and man's relation to the Highest. Such is
Calvinism,[239] Quakerism,[240] Swedenborgism.[241] The pupil takes the
same delight in subordinating everything to the new terminology, as a
girl who has just learned botany in seeing a new earth and new seasons
thereby. It will happen for A time, that the pupil will find his
intellectual power has grown by the study of his master's mind. But in
all unbalanced minds, the classification is idolized, passes for the
end, and not for a speedily exhaustible means, so that the walls of the
system blend to their eye in the remote horizon with the walls of the
universe; the luminaries of heaven seem to them hung on the arch their
master built. They cannot imagine how you aliens have any right to
see,--how you can see; "It must be somehow that you stole the light from
us." They do not yet perceive that light, unsystematic, indomitable,
will break into any cabin, even into theirs. Let them chirp awhile and
call it their own. If they are honest and do well, presently their neat
new pinfold will be too strait and low, will crack, will lean, will rot
and vanish, and the immortal light, all young and joyful, million-orbed,
million-colored, will beam over the universe as on the first morning.

2. It is for want of self-culture that the superstition of Traveling,
whose idols are Italy, England, Egypt, retains its fascination for all
educated Americans. They who made England, Italy, or Greece venerable
in the imagination did so by sticking fast where they were, like an
axis of the earth. In manly hours, we feel that duty is our place. The
soul is no traveler; the wise man stays at home, and when his
necessities, his duties, on any occasion call him from his house, or
into foreign lands, he is at home still; and shall make men sensible
by the expression of his countenance, that he goes the missionary of
wisdom and virtue, and visits cities and men like a sovereign, and not
like an interloper or a valet.

I have no churlish objection to the circumnavigation of the globe, for
the purposes of art, of study, and benevolence, so that the man is
first domesticated, or does not go abroad with the hope of finding
somewhat greater than he knows. He who travels to be amused, or to get
somewhat which he does not carry,[242] travels away from himself, and
grows old even in youth among old things. In Thebes,[243] in
Palmyra,[244] his will and mind have become old and dilapidated as
they. He carries ruins to ruins.

Traveling is a fool's paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the
indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can
be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk,
embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples,
and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting,
identical, that I fled from.[245] I seek the Vatican,[246] and the
palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but
I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.

3. But the rage of traveling is a symptom of a deeper unsoundness of
affecting the whole intellectual action. The intellect is vagabond,
and our system of education fosters restlessness. Our minds travel
when our bodies are forced to stay at home. We imitate; and what is
imitation but the traveling of the mind? Our houses are built with
foreign taste; our shelves are garnished with foreign ornaments; our
opinions, our tastes, our faculties, lean, and follow the Past and the
Distant. The soul created the arts wherever they have flourished. It
was in his own mind that the artist sought his model. It was an
application of his own thought to the thing to be done and the
conditions to be observed. And why need we copy the Doric[247] or the
Gothic[248] model? Beauty, convenience, grandeur of thought, and
quaint expression are as near to us as to any, and if the American
artist will study with hope and love the precise thing to be done by
him considering the climate, the soil, the length of the day, the
wants of the people, the habit and form of the government, he will
create a house in which all these will find themselves fitted, and
taste and sentiment will be satisfied also.

Insist on yourself; never imitate.[249] Your own gift you can present
every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation;
but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous,
half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can
teach him. No man yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has
exhibited it. Where is the master who could have taught
Shakespeare?[250] Where is the master who could have instructed
Franklin,[251] or Washington, or Bacon,[252] or Newton?[253] Every great
man is a unique. The Scipionism of Scipio[254] is precisely that part he
could not borrow. Shakespeare will never be made by the study of
Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too
much or dare too much. There is at this moment for you an utterance
brave and grand as that of the colossal chisel of Phidias,[255] or
trowel of the Egyptians,[256] or the pen of Moses,[257] or Dante,[258]
but different from all these. Not possible will the soul all rich, all
eloquent, with thousand-cloven tongue, deign to repeat itself; but if
you can hear what these patriarchs say, surely you can reply to them in
the same pitch of voice; for the ear and the tongue are two organs of
one nature. Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life, obey thy
heart, and thou shalt reproduce the Foreworld[259] again.

4. As our Religion, our Education, our Art look abroad, so does our
spirit of society. All men plume themselves on the improvement of
society, and no man improves.

Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on
the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is
civilized, it is Christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this
change is not amelioration. For everything that is given, something is
taken. Society acquires new arts, and loses old instincts. What a
contrast between the well-clad, reading, writing, thinking American,
with a watch, a pencil, and a bill of exchange in his pocket, and the
naked New Zealander,[260] whose property is a club, a spear, a mat,
and an undivided twentieth of a shed to sleep under! But compare the
health of the two men, and you shall see that the white man has lost
his aboriginal strength. If the traveler tell us truly, strike the
savage with a broad ax, and in a day or two the flesh shall unite and
heal as if you struck the blow into soft pitch, and the same blow
shall send the white to his grave.

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.
He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of muscle. He
has a fine Geneva[261] watch, but he fails of the skill to tell the
hour by the sun. A Greenwich nautical almanac[262] he has, and so
being sure of the information when he wants it, the man in the street
does not know a star in the sky. The solstice[263] he does not
observe; the equinox he knows as little; and the whole bright calendar
of the year is without a dial in his mind. His notebooks impair his
memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance office increases
the number of accidents; and it may be a question whether machinery
does not encumber; whether we have not lost by refinement some
energy, by a Christianity intrenched in establishments and forms, some
vigor of wild virtue. For every Stoic was a Stoic; but in Christendom
where is the Christian?

There is no more deviation in the moral standard than in the standard
of height or bulk. No greater men are now than ever were. A singular
equality may be observed between great men of the first and of the
last ages; nor can all the science, art, religion, and philosophy of
the nineteenth century avail to educate greater men than
Plutarch's[264] heroes, three or four and twenty centuries ago. Not in
time is the race progressive. Phocion,[265] Socrates, Anaxagoras,[266]
Diogenes,[267] are great men, but they leave no class. He who is
really of their class will not be called by their name, but will be
his own man, and, in his turn, the founder of a sect. The arts and
inventions of each period are only its costume, and do not invigorate
men. The harm of the improved machinery may compensate its good.
Hudson[268] and Bering[269] accomplished so much in their fishing
boats, as to astonish Parry[270] and Franklin,[271] whose equipment
exhausted the resources of science and art. Galileo, with an
opera-glass, discovered a more splendid series of celestial phenomena
than any one since. Columbus[272] found the New World in an undecked
boat. It is curious to see the periodical disuse and perishing of
means and machinery, which were introduced with loud laudation a few
years or centuries before. The great genius returns to essential man.
We reckoned the improvements of the art of war among the triumphs of
science, and yet Napoleon[273] conquered Europe by the bivouac, which
consisted of falling back on naked valor, and disencumbering it of all
aids. The Emperor held it impossible to make a perfect army, says Las
Casas,[274] "without abolishing our arms, magazines, commissaries, and
carriages, until, in imitation of the Roman custom, the soldier should
receive his supply of corn, grind it in his handmill, and bake his
bread himself."

Society is a wave. The wave moves onward, but the water of which it is
composed does not. The same particle does not rise from the valley to
the ridge. Its unity is only phenomenal. The persons who make up a
nation to-day, next year die, and their experience with them.

And so the reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments
which protect it, is the want of self-reliance. Men have looked away
from themselves and at things so long, that they have come to esteem
the religious, learned, and civil institutions as guards of property,
and they deprecate assaults on these, because they feel them to be
assaults on property. They measure their esteem of each other by what
each has, and not by what each is. But a cultivated man becomes
ashamed of his property, out of new respect for his nature. Especially
he hates what he has, if he see that it is accidental,--came to him by
inheritance, or gift, or crime; then he feels that it is not having;
it does not belong to him, has no root in him, and merely lies there,
because no revolution or no robber takes it away. But that which a man
is, does always by necessity acquire, and what the man acquires is
living property, which does not wait the beck of rulers, or mobs, or
revolutions, or fire, or storm, or bankruptcies, but perpetually
renews itself wherever the man breathes. "Thy lot or portion of life,"
said the Caliph Ali,[275] "is seeking after thee; therefore be at rest
from seeking after it." Our dependence on these foreign goods leads us
to our slavish respect for numbers. The political parties meet in
numerous conventions; the greater the concourse, and with each new
uproar of announcement, The delegation from Essex![276] The Democrats
from New Hampshire! The Whigs of Maine! The young patriot feels
himself stronger than before by a new thousand of eyes and arms. In
like manner the reformers summon conventions, and vote and resolve in
multitude. Not so, O friends! will the god deign to enter and inhabit
you, but by a method precisely the reverse. It is only as a man puts
off all foreign support, and stands alone, that I see him to be strong
and to prevail. He is weaker by every recruit to his banner. Is not a
man better than a town? Ask nothing of men, and in the endless
mutation, thou only firm column must presently appear the upholder of
all that surrounds thee. He who knows that power is inborn, that he is
weak because he has looked for good out of him and elsewhere, and so
perceiving, throws himself unhesitatingly on his thought, instantly
rights himself, stands in the erect position, commands his limbs,
works miracles; just as a man who stands on his feet is stronger than
a man who stands on his head.

So use all that is called Fortune.[277] Most men gamble with her, and
gain all, and lose all, as her wheel rolls. But do thou leave as
unlawful these winnings, and deal with Cause and Effect, the
chancelors of God. In the Will work and acquire, and thou hast chained
the wheel of Chance, and shalt sit hereafter out of fear from her
rotations. A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your
sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable
event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for
you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.


1. We have a great deal more kindness than is ever spoken. Barring all
the selfishness that chills like east winds the world, the whole human
family is bathed with an element of love like a fine ether. How many
persons we meet in houses, whom we scarcely speak to, whom yet we
honor, and who honor us! How many we see in the street, or sit with in
church, whom, though silently, we warmly rejoice to be with! Read the
language of these wandering eyebeams. The heart knoweth.

2. The effect of the indulgence of this human affection is a certain
cordial exhilaration. In poetry, and in common speech, the emotions of
benevolence and complacency which are felt toward others, are likened
to the material effects of fire; so swift, or much more swift, more
active, more cheering are these fine inward irradiations. From the
highest degree of passionate love, to the lowest degree of good will,
they make the sweetness of life.

3. Our intellectual and active powers increase with our affection. The
scholar sits down to write, and all his years of meditation do not
furnish him with one good thought or happy expression; but it is
necessary to write a letter to a friend, and, forthwith, troops of
gentle thoughts invest themselves, on every hand, with chosen words.
See in any house where virtue and self-respect abide, the palpitation
which the approach of a stranger causes. A commended stranger is
expected and announced, and an uneasiness between pleasure and pain
invades all the hearts of a household. His arrival almost brings fear
to the good hearts that would welcome him. The house is dusted, all
things fly into their places, the old coat is exchanged for the new,
and they must get up a dinner if they can. Of a commended stranger,
only the good report is told by others, only the good and new is heard
by us. He stands to us for humanity. He is, what we wish. Having
imagined and invested him, we ask how we should stand related in
conversation and action with such a man, and are uneasy with fear. The
same idea exalts conversation with him. We talk better than we are
wont. We have the nimblest fancy, a richer memory, and our dumb devil
has taken leave for the time. For long hours we can continue a series
of sincere, graceful, rich communications, drawn from the oldest,
secretest experience, so that they who sit by, of our own kinsfolk and
acquaintance, shall feel a lively surprise at our unusual powers. But
as soon as the stranger begins to intrude his partialities, his
definitions, his defects, into the conversation, it is all over. He
has heard the first, the last and best, he will ever hear from us. He
is no stranger now. Vulgarity, ignorance, misapprehension, are old
acquaintances. Now, when he comes, he may get the order, the dress,
and the dinner, but the throbbing of the heart, and the communications
of the soul, no more.

4. What is so pleasant as these jets of affection which relume[279] a
young world for me again? What is so delicious as a just and firm
encounter of two, in a thought, in a feeling? How beautiful, on their
approach to this beating heart, the steps and forms of the gifted and
the true! The moment we indulge our affections, the earth is
metamorphosed; there is no winter, and no night; all tragedies, all
ennuis vanish; all duties even; nothing fills the proceeding eternity
but the forms all radiant of beloved persons. Let the soul be assured
that somewhere in the universe it should rejoin its friend, and it
would be content and cheerful alone for a thousand years.

5. I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old
and the new. Shall I not call God, the Beautiful, who daily showeth
himself so to me in his gifts? I chide society, I embrace solitude, and
yet I am not so ungrateful as not to see the wise, the lovely, and the
noble-minded, as from time to time they pass my gate.[280] Who hears me,
who understands me, becomes mine,--a possession for all time. Nor is
nature so poor, but she gives me this joy several times, and thus we
weave social threads of our own, a new web of relations; and, as many
thoughts in succession substantiate themselves, we shall by-and-by stand
in a new world of our own creation, and no longer strangers and pilgrims
is a traditionary globe. My friends have come[281] to me unsought. The
great God gave them to me. By oldest right, by the divine affinity of
virtue with itself, I find them, or rather, not I, but the Deity in me
and in them, both deride and cancel the thick walls of individual
character, relation, age, sex and circumstance, at which he usually
connives, and now makes many one. High thanks I owe you, excellent
lovers, who carry out the world for me to new and noble depths, and
enlarge the meaning of all my thoughts. These are new poetry of the
first Bard[282]--poetry without stop--hymn, ode and epic,[283] poetry
still flowing, Apollo[284] and the Muses[285] chanting still. Will these
two separate themselves from me again, or some of them? I know not, but
I fear it not; for my relation to them is so pure, that we hold by
simple affinity, and the Genius[286] of my life being thus social, the
same affinity will exert its energy on whomsoever is as noble as these
men and women, wherever I may be.

6. I confess to an extreme tenderness of nature on this point. It is
almost dangerous to me to "crush the sweet poison,[287] of misused
wine" of the affections. A new person is to me a great event, and
hinders me from sleep. I have had such fine fancies lately about two
or three persons, as have given me delicious hours, but the joy ends
in the day: it yields no fruit. Thought is not born of it; my action
is very little modified. I must feel pride in my friend's
accomplishments as if they were mine, and a property in his virtues.
I feel as warmly when he is praised, as the lover when he hears
applause of his engaged maiden. We over-estimate the conscience of our
friend. His goodness seems better than our goodness, his nature finer,
his temptations less. Everything that is his,--his name, his form, his
dress, books and instruments,--fancy enhances. Our own thought sounds
new and larger from his mouth.

7. Yet the systole and diastole[288] of the heart are not without
their analogy in the ebb and flow of love. Friendship, like the
immortality[289] of the soul, is too good to be believed. The lover,
beholding his maiden, half knows that she is not verily that which he
worships; and in the golden hour of friendship, we are surprised with
shades of suspicion and unbelief. We doubt that we bestow on our hero
the virtues in which he shines, and afterward worship the form to
which we have ascribed this divine inhabitation. In strictness, the
soul does not respect men as it respects itself. In strict science,
all persons underlie the same condition of an infinite remoteness.
Shall we fear to cool our love by mining for the metaphysical
foundation of this Elysian temple?[290] Shall I not be as real as the
things I see? If I am, I shall not fear to know them for what they
are. Their essence is not less beautiful than their appearance, though
it needs finer organs for its apprehension. The root of the plant is
not unsightly to science, though for chaplets and festoons we cut the
stem short. And I must hazard the production of the bald fact amid
these pleasing reveries, though it should prove an Egyptian skull at
our banquet.[291] A man who stands united with his thought, conceives
magnificently to himself. He is conscious of a universal success,[292]
even though bought by uniform particular failures. No advantages, no
powers, no gold or force can be any match for him. I cannot choose but
rely on my own poverty, more than on your wealth. I cannot make your
consciousness tantamount to mine. Only the star dazzles; the planet
has a faint, moon-like ray. I hear what you say of the admirable parts
and tried temper of the party you praise, but I see well that for all
his purple cloaks I shall not like him, unless he is at least a poor
Greek like me. I cannot deny it, O friend, that the vast shadow of the
Phenomenal includes thee, also, in its pied and painted
immensity,--thee, also, compared with whom all else is shadow. Thou
art not Being, as Truth is, as Justice is,--thou art not my soul, but
a picture and effigy of that. Thou hast come to me lately, and already
thou art seizing thy hat and cloak. It is not that the soul puts forth
friends, as the tree puts forth leaves, and presently, by the
germination of new buds, extrudes the old leaf?[293] The law of nature
is alternation forevermore. Each electrical state superinduces the
opposite. The soul environs itself with friends, that it may enter
into a grander self-acquaintance or solitude; and it goes alone, for a
season, that it may exalt its conversation or society. This method
betrays itself along the whole history of our personal relations. The
instinct of affection revives the hope of union with our mates, and
the returning sense of insulation recalls us from the chase. Thus
every man passes his life in the search after friendship, and if he
should record his true sentiment, he might write a letter like this,
to each new candidate for his love:--


     If I was sure of thee, sure of thy capacity, sure to match
     my mood with thine, I should never think again of trifles,
     in relation to thy comings and goings. I am not very wise;
     my moods are quite attainable; and I respect thy genius; it
     is to me as yet unfathomed; yet dare I not presume in thee a
     perfect intelligence of me, and so thou art to me a
     delicious torment. Thine ever, or never.

8. Yet these uneasy pleasures and fine pains are for curiosity, and
not for life. They are not to be indulged. This is to weave cobweb,
and not cloth. Our friendships hurry to short and poor conclusions,
because we have made them a texture of wine and dreams,[294] instead
of the tough fiber of the human heart. The laws of friendship are
great, austere, and eternal, of one web with the laws of nature and of
morals. But we have aimed at a swift and petty benefit, to suck a
sudden sweetness. We snatch at the slowest fruit in the whole garden
of God, which many summers and many winters must ripen. We seek our
friend not sacredly but with an adulterate passion which would
appropriate him to ourselves. In vain. We are armed all over with
subtle antagonisms, which, as soon as we meet, begin to play, and
translate all poetry into stale prose. Almost all people descend to
meet. All association must be a compromise, and, what is worst, the
very flower and aroma of the flower of each of the beautiful natures
disappears as they approach each other. What a perpetual
disappointment is actual society, even of the virtuous and gifted!
After interviews have been compassed with long foresight, we must be
tormented presently by baffled blows, by sudden, unseasonable
apathies, by epilepsies of wit and of animal spirits, in the heyday of
friendship and thought. Our faculties do not play us true, and both
parties are relieved by solitude.

9. I ought to be equal to every relation. It makes no difference how
many friends I have, and what content I can find in conversing with
each, if there be one to whom I am not equal. If I have shrunk unequal
from one contest instantly, the joy I find in all the rest becomes
mean and cowardly. I should hate myself, if then I made my other
friends my asylum.

    "The valiant warrior[295] famoused for fight,
       After a hundred victories, once foiled,
     Is from the book of honor razed quite,
       And all the rest forgot for which he toiled."

10. Our impatience is thus sharply rebuked. Bashfulness and apathy are
a tough husk in which a delicate organization is protected from
premature ripening. It would be lost if it knew itself before any of
the best souls were yet ripe enough to know and own it. Respect the
_naturlangsamkeit_[296] which hardens the ruby in a million years,
and works in duration, in which Alps and Andes come and go as
rainbows. The good spirit of our life has no heaven which is the price
of rashness. Love, which is the essence of God, is not for levity, but
for the total worth of man. Let us not have this childish luxury in
our regards, but the austerest worth; let us approach our friend with
an audacious trust in the truth of his heart, in the breadth,
impossible to be overturned, of his foundations.

11. The attractions of this subject are not to be resisted, and I
leave, for the time, all account of subordinate social benefit, to
speak of that select and sacred relation which is a kind of absolute,
and which even leaves the language of love suspicious and common, so
much is this purer, and nothing is so much divine.

12. I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with roughest
courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work,
but the solidest thing we know. For now, after so many ages of
experience, what do we know of nature, or of ourselves? Not one step
has man taken toward the solution of the problem of his destiny. In
one condemnation of folly stand the whole universe of men. But the
sweet sincerity of joy and peace, which I draw from this alliance
with my brother's soul, is the nut itself whereof all nature and all
thought is but the husk and shell. Happy is the house that shelters a
friend! It might well be built, like a festal bower or arch, to
entertain him a single day. Happier, if he know the solemnity of that
relation, and honor its law! He who offers himself a candidate for
that covenant comes up, like an Olympian,[297] to the great games,
where the first-born of the world are the competitors. He proposes
himself for contest where Time, Want, Danger are in the lists, and he
alone is victor who has truth enough in his constitution to preserve
the delicacy of his beauty from the wear and tear of all these. The
gifts of fortune may be present or absent, but all the hap in that
contest depends on intrinsic nobleness, and the contempt of trifles.
There are two elements that go to the composition of friendship, each
so sovereign, that I can detect no superiority in either, no reason
why either should be first named. One is Truth. A friend is a person
with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud. I am
arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal that I may
drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and
second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with
the simplicity and wholeness, with which one chemical atom meets
another. Sincerity is the luxury allowed, but diadems and authority,
only to the highest rank, _that_ being permitted to speak truth as
having none above it to court or conform unto. Every man alone is
sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins. We
parry and fend the approach of our fellow-man by compliments, by
gossip, by amusements, by affairs. We cover up our thought from him
under a hundred folds. I knew a man who,[298] under a certain
religious frenzy, cast off this drapery, and omitting all compliments
and commonplace, spoke to the conscience of every person he
encountered, and that with great insight and beauty. At first he was
resisted, and all men agreed he was mad. But persisting, as indeed he
could not help doing, for some time in this course, he attained to the
advantage of bringing every man of his acquaintance into true
relations with him. No man would think of speaking falsely with him,
or of putting him off with any chat of markets or reading-rooms. But
every man was constrained by so much sincerity to the like plain
dealing and what love of nature, what poetry, what symbol of truth he
had, he did certainly show him. But to most of us society shows not
its face and eye, but its side and its back. To stand in true
relations with men in a false age, is worth a fit of insanity, is it
not? We can seldom go erect. Almost every man we meet requires some
civility,--requires to be humored; he has some fame, some talent, some
whim of religion or philanthropy in his head that is not to be
questioned, and which spoils all conversation with him. But a friend
is a sane man who exercises not my ingenuity, but me. My friend gives
me entertainment without requiring any stipulation on my part. A
friend, therefore, is a sort of paradox[299] in nature. I who alone
am, I who see nothing in nature whose existence I can affirm with
equal evidence to my own, behold now the semblance of my being in all
its height, variety and curiosity, reiterated in a foreign form; so
that a friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.

13. The other element of friendship is tenderness. We are holden to
men by every sort of tie, by blood, by pride, by fear, by hope, by
lucre, by lust, by hate, by admiration, by every circumstance and
badge and trifle, but we can scarce believe that so much character can
subsist in another as to draw us by love. Can another be so blessed,
and we so pure, that we can offer him tenderness? When a man becomes
dear to me, I have touched the goal of fortune. I find very little
written directly to the heart of this matter in books. And yet I have
one text which I cannot choose but remember. My author says,[300]--"I
offer myself faintly and bluntly to those whose I effectually am, and
tender myself least to him to whom I am the most devoted." I wish that
friendship should have feet, as well as eyes and eloquence. It must
plant itself on the ground, before it vaults over the moon. I wish it
to be a little of a citizen, before it is quite a cherub.[301] We
chide the citizen because he makes love a commodity. It is an exchange
of gifts, of useful loans; it is good neighborhood; it watches with
the sick; it holds the pall at the funeral; and quite loses sight of
the delicacies and nobility of the relation. But though we cannot find
the god under this disguise of a sutler, yet, on the other hand, we
cannot forgive the poet if he spins his thread too fine, and does not
substantiate his romance by the municipal virtues of justice,
punctuality, fidelity and pity. I hate the prostitution of the name of
friendship to signify modish and worldly alliances. I much prefer the
company of plow-boys and tin-peddlers, to the silken and perfumed
amity which only celebrates its days of encounter by a frivolous
display, by rides in a curricle,[302] and dinners at the best taverns.
The end of friendship is a commerce the most strict and homely that
can be joined; more strict than any of which we have experience. It is
for aid and comfort through all the relations and passages of life and
death. It is fit for serene days, and graceful gifts, and country
rambles, but also for rough roads and hard fare, shipwreck, poverty,
and persecution. It keeps company with the sallies of the wit and the
trances of religion. We are to dignify to each other the daily needs
and offices of man's life, and embellish it by courage, wisdom and
unity. It should never fall into something usual and settled, but
should be alert and inventive, and add rhyme and reason to what was

14. Friendship may be said to require natures so rare and costly, each
so well-tempered, and so happily adapted, and withal so
circumstanced, (for even in that particular, a poet says, love demands
that the parties be altogether paired,) that its satisfaction can very
seldom be assured. It cannot subsist in its perfection, say some of
those who are learned in this warm lore of the heart, betwixt more
than two. I am not quite so strict in my terms, perhaps because I have
never known so high a fellowship as others. I please my imagination
more with a circle of godlike men and women variously related to each
other, and between whom subsists a lofty intelligence. But I find this
law of _one to one_,[303] peremptory for conversation, which is the
practice and consummation of friendship. Do not mix waters too much.
The best mix as ill as good and bad. You shall have very useful and
cheering discourse at several times with two several men, but let all
three of you come together, and you shall not have one new and hearty
word. Two may talk and one may hear, but three cannot take part in a
conversation of the most sincere and searching sort. In good company
there is never such discourse between two, across the table, as takes
place when you leave them alone. In good company, the individuals at
once merge their egotism into a social soul exactly co-extensive with
the several consciousnesses there present. No partialities of friend
to friend, no fondnesses of brother to sister, of wife to husband, are
there pertinent, but quite otherwise. Only he may then speak who can
sail on the common thought of the party, and not poorly limited to
his own. Now this convention, which good sense demands, destroys the
high freedom of great conversation, which requires an absolute running
of two souls into one.

15. No two men but being left alone with each other, enter into
simpler relations. Yet it is affinity that determines _which_ two
shall converse. Unrelated men give little joy to each other; will
never suspect the latent powers of each. We talk sometimes of a great
talent for conversation, as if it were a permanent property in some
individuals. Conversation is an evanescent relation,--no more. A man
is reputed to have thought and eloquence; he cannot, for all that, say
a word to his cousin or his uncle. They accuse his silence with as
much reason as they would blame the insignificance of a dial in the
shade. In the sun it will mark the hour. Among those who enjoy his
thought, he will regain his tongue.

16. Friendship requires that rare mean betwixt likeness and
unlikeness, that piques each with the presence of power and of consent
in the other party. Let me be alone to the end of the world, rather
than that my friend should overstep by a word or a look his real
sympathy. I am equally balked by antagonism and by compliance. Let him
not cease an instant to be himself. The only joy I have in his being
mine, is that the _not mine_ is _mine_. I hate, where I looked for a
manly furtherance, or at least a manly resistance, to find a mush of
concession. Better be a nettle in the side of your friend, than his
echo. The condition which high friendship demands is ability to do
without it. That high office requires great and sublime parts. There
must be very two before there can be very one. Let it be an alliance
of two large formidable natures, mutually beheld, mutually feared,
before yet they recognize the deep identity which beneath these
disparities unites them.

17. He only is fit for this society who is magnanimous; who is sure
that greatness and goodness are always economy; who is not swift to
intermeddle with his fortunes. Let him not intermeddle with this.
Leave to the diamond its ages to grow, nor expect to accelerate the
births of the eternal. Friendship demands a religious treatment. We
talk of choosing our friends, but friends are self-elected. Reverence
is a great part of it. Treat your friend as a spectacle. Of course he
has merits that are not yours, and that you cannot honor, if you must
needs hold him close to your person. Stand aside; give those merits
room; let them mount and expand. Are you the friend of your friend's
buttons, or of his thought? To a great heart he will still be a
stranger in a thousand particulars, that he may come near in the
holiest ground. Leave it to girls and boys to regard a friend as
property, and to suck a short and all-confounding pleasure instead of
the noblest benefits.

18. Let us buy our entrance to this guild by a long probation. Why
should we desecrate noble and beautiful souls by intruding on them?
Why insist on rash personal relations with your friend? Why go to his
house, or know his mother and brother and sisters? Why be visited by
him at your own? Are these things material to our covenant? Leave this
touching and clawing. Let him be to me a spirit. A message, a thought,
a sincerity, a glance from him I want, but not news, nor pottage. I
can get politics, and chat, and neighborly conveniences, from cheaper
companions. Should not the society of my friend be to me poetic, pure,
universal, and great as nature itself? Ought I to feel that our tie is
profane in comparison with yonder bar of cloud that sleeps on the
horizon, or that clump of waving grass that divides the brook? Let us
not vilify but raise it to that standard. That great defying eye, that
scornful beauty of his mien and action, do not pique yourself on
reducing, but rather fortify and enhance. Worship his superiorities;
wish him not less by a thought, but hoard and tell them all. Guard him
as thy counterpart. Let him be to thee forever a sort of beautiful
enemy, untamable, devoutly revered, and not a trivial conveniency to
be soon outgrown and cast aside. The hues of the opal, the light of
the diamond, are not to be seen, if the eye is too near. To my friend
I write a letter, and from him I receive a letter. That seems to you a
little. It suffices me. It is a spiritual gift worthy of him to give
and of me to receive. It profanes nobody. In these warm lines the
heart will trust itself, as it will not to the tongue, and pour out
the prophecy of a godlier existence than all the annals of heroism
have yet made good.

19. Respect so far the holy laws of this fellowship as not to
prejudice its perfect flower by your impatience for its opening. We
must be our own before we can be another's. There is at least this
satisfaction in crime, according to the Latin proverb;--you can speak
to your accomplice on even terms. _Crimen quos[304] inquinat, aequat_.
To those whom we admire and love, at first we cannot. Yet the least
defect of self-possession vitiates, in my judgment, the entire
relation. There can never be deep peace between two spirits, never
mutual respect until, in their dialogue, each stands for the whole

20. What is so great as friendship, let us carry with what grandeur of
spirit we can. Let us be silent,--so we may hear the whisper of the
gods. Let us not interfere. Who set you to cast about what you should
say to the select souls, or how to say anything to such? No matter how
ingenious, no matter how graceful and bland. There are innumerable
degrees of folly and wisdom, and for you to say aught is to be
frivolous. Wait, and thy heart shall speak. Wait until the necessary
and everlasting overpowers you, until day and night avail themselves
of your lips. The only reward of virtue, is virtue; the only way to
have a friend is to be one. You shall not come nearer a man by getting
into his house. If unlike, his soul only flees the faster from you,
and you shall catch never a true glance of his eye. We see the noble
afar off, and they repel us; why should we intrude? Late,--very
late,--we perceive that no arrangements, no introductions, no
consuetudes or habits of society, would be of any avail to establish
us in such relations with them as we desire,--but solely the uprise of
nature in us to the same degree it is in them; then shall we meet as
water with water; and if we should not meet them then, we shall not
want them, for we are already they. In the last analysis, love is only
the reflection of a man's own worthiness from other men. Men have
sometimes exchanged names with their friends, as if they would signify
that in their friend each loved his own soul.

21. The higher the style we demand of friendship, of course the less
easy to establish it with flesh and blood. We walk alone in the world.
Friends, such as we desire, are dreams and fables. But a sublime hope
cheers ever the faithful heart, that elsewhere, in other regions of
the universal power, souls are now acting, enduring and daring, which
can love us, and which we can love. We may congratulate ourselves that
the period of nonage,[305] of follies, of blunders, and of shame, is
passed in solitude, and when we are finished men, we shall grasp
heroic hands in heroic hands. Only be admonished by what you already
see, not to strike leagues of friendship with cheap persons, where no
friendship can be. Our impatience betrays us into rash and foolish
alliances which no God attends. By persisting in your path, though
you forfeit the little you gain the great. You demonstrate yourself,
so as to put yourself out of the reach of false relations, and you
draw to you the first-born of the world, those rare pilgrims whereof
only one or two wander in nature at once, and before whom the vulgar
great show as specters and shadows merely.

22. It is foolish to be afraid of making our ties too spiritual, as if
so we could lose any genuine love. Whatever correction of our popular
views we make from insight, nature will be sure to bear us out in, and
though it seem to rob us of some joy, will repay us with a greater.
Let us feel, if we will, the absolute insulation of man. We are sure
that we have all in us. We go to Europe, or we pursue persons, or we
read books, in the instinctive faith that these will call it out and
reveal us to ourselves. Beggars all. The persons are such as we; the
Europe, an old faded garment of dead persons; the books, their ghosts.
Let us drop this idolatry. Let us give over this mendicancy. Let us
even bid our dearest friends farewell, and defy them, saying, "Who are
you? Unhand me. I will be dependent no more." Ah! seest thou not, O
brother, that thus we part only to meet again on a higher platform,
and only be more each other's, because we are more our own? A friend
is Janus-faced:[306] he looks to the past and the future. He is the
child of all my foregoing hours, the prophet of those to come, and
the harbinger[307] of a greater friend.

23. I do then with my friends as I do with my books. I would have them
where I can find them, but I seldom use them. We must have society on
our own terms, and admit or exclude it on the slightest cause. I
cannot afford to speak much with my friend. If he is great, he makes
me so great that I cannot descend to converse. In the great days,
presentiments hover before me, far before me in the firmament. I ought
then to dedicate myself to them. I go in that I may seize them, I go
out that I may seize them. I fear only that I may lose them receding
into the sky in which now they are only a patch of brighter light.
Then, though I prize my friends, I cannot afford to talk with them and
study their visions, lest I lose my own. It would indeed give me a
certain household joy to quit this lofty seeking, this spiritual
astronomy, or search of stars, and come down to warm sympathies with
you; but then I know well I shall mourn always the vanishing of my
mighty gods. It is true, next week I shall have languid moods, when I
can well afford to occupy myself with foreign objects; then I shall
regret the lost literature of your mind, and wish you were by my side
again. But if you come, perhaps you will fill my mind only with new
visions, not with yourself but with your lusters, and I shall not be
able any more than now to converse with you. So I will owe to my
friends this evanescent intercourse. I will receive from them, not
what they have, but what they are. They shall give me that which
properly they cannot give, but which emanates from them. But they
shall not hold me by any relations less subtile and pure. We will meet
as though we met not, and part as though we parted not.

24. It has seemed to me lately more possible than I knew, to carry a
friendship greatly, on one side, without due correspondence on the
other. Why should I cumber myself with regrets that the receiver is
not capacious? It never troubles the sun that some of his rays fall
wide and vain into ungrateful space, and only a small part on the
reflecting planet. Let your greatness educate the crude and cold
companion. If he is unequal, he will presently pass away; but thou art
enlarged by thy own shining, and no longer a mate for frogs and worms,
dost soar and burn with the gods of the empyrean.[308] It is thought a
disgrace to love unrequited. But the great will see that true love
cannot be unrequited. True love transcends the unworthy object, and
dwells and broods on the eternal, and when the poor interposed mask
crumbles, it is not sad, but feels rid of so much earth, and feels its
independency the surer. Yet these things may hardly be said without a
sort of treachery to the relation. The essence of friendship is
entireness, a total magnanimity and trust. It must not surmise or
provide for infirmity. It treats its object as a god, that it may
deify both.


    "Paradise is under the shadow of swords,"[310]

1. In the elder English dramatists,[311] and mainly in the plays of
Beaumont and Fletcher,[312] there is a constant recognition of
gentility, as if a noble behavior were as easily marked in the society
of their age, as color is in our American population. When any Rodrigo,
Pedro, or Valerio[313] enters, though he be a stranger, the duke or
governor exclaims, This is a gentleman,--and proffers civilities without
end; but all the rest are slag and refuse. In harmony with this delight
in personal advantages, there is in their plays a certain heroic cast of
character and dialogue,--as in Bonduca, Sophocles, the Mad Lover, the
Double Marriage,[314]--wherein the speaker is so earnest and cordial,
and on such deep grounds of character, that the dialogue, on the
slightest additional incident in the plot, rises naturally into poetry.
Among many texts, take the following. The Roman Martius has conquered
Athens--all but the invincible spirits of Sophocles, the duke of Athens,
and Dorigen, his wife. The beauty of the latter inflames Martius, and he
seeks to save her husband; but Sophocles will not ask his life, although
assured, that a word will save him, and the execution of both proceeds.

"_Valerius._ Bid thy wife farewell.

_Soph._ No, I will take no leave. My Dorigen,
Yonder, above, 'bout Ariadne's crown.[315]
My spirit shall hover for thee. Prithee, haste.

_Dor._ Stay, Sophocles--with this, tie up my sight;
Let not soft nature so transformed be,
And lose her gentler sexed humanity,
To make me see my lord bleed. So, 'tis well;
Never one object underneath the sun
Will I behold before my Sophocles:
Farewell; now teach the Romans how to die.

_Mar._ Dost know what 'tis to die?

_Soph._ Thou dost not, Martius,
And therefore, not what 'tis to live; to die
Is to begin to live. It is to end
An old, stale, weary work, and to commence
A newer and a better. 'Tis to leave
Deceitful knaves for the society
Of gods and goodness. Thou, thyself, must part
At last, from all thy garlands, pleasures, triumphs,
And prove thy fortitude what then 'twill do.

_Val._ But art not grieved nor vexed to leave thy life thus?

_Soph._ Why should I grieve or vex for being sent
To them I ever loved best? Now, I'll kneel,
But with my back toward thee; 'tis the last duty
This trunk can do the gods.

_Mar._ Strike, strike, Valerius,
Or Martius' heart will leap out at his mouth:
This is a man, a woman! Kiss thy lord,
And live with all the freedom you were wont.
O love! thou doubly hast afflicted me
With virtue and with beauty. Treacherous heart,
My hand shall cast thee quick into my urn,
Ere thou transgress this knot of piety.

_Val._ What ails my brother?

_Soph._ Martius, oh Martius,
Thou now hast found a way to conquer me.

_Dor._ O star of Rome! what gratitude can speak
Fit words to follow such a deed as this?

_Mar._ This admirable duke, Valerius,
With his disdain of fortune and of death,
Captived himself, has captived me,
And though my arm hath ta'en his body here,
His soul hath subjugated Martius' soul.
By Romulus,[316] he is all soul, I think;
He hath no flesh, and spirit cannot be gyved;
Then we have vanquished nothing; he is free,
And Martius walks now in captivity."

2. I do not readily remember any poem, play, sermon, novel, or
oration, that our press vents in the last few years, which goes to the
same tune. We have a great many flutes and flageolets, but not often
the sound of any fife. Yet, Wordsworth's Laodamia, and the ode of
"Dion,"[317] and some sonnets, have a certain noble music; and
Scott[318] will sometimes draw a stroke like the portrait of Lord
Evandale, given by Balfour of Burley.[319] Thomas Carlyle,[320] with
his natural taste for what is manly and daring in character, has
suffered no heroic trait in his favorites to drop from his
biographical and historical pictures. Earlier, Robert Burns[321] has
given us a song or two. In the Harleian Miscellanies,[322] there is an
account of the battle of Lutzen,[323] which deserves to be read. And
Simon Ockley's[324] History of the Saracens recounts the prodigies of
individual valor with admiration, all the more evident on the part of
the narrator, that he seems to think that his place in Christian
Oxford[325] requires of him some proper protestations of abhorrence.
But if we explore the literature of Heroism, we shall quickly come to
Plutarch,[326] who is its Doctor and historian. To him we owe the
Brasidas,[327] the Dion,[328] the Epaminondas,[329] the Scipio[330] of
old, and I must think we are more deeply indebted to him than to all
the ancient writers. Each of his "Lives" is a refutation to the
despondency and cowardice of our religious and political theorists. A
wild courage, a Stoicism[331] not of the schools, but of the blood,
shines in every anecdote, and has given that book its immense fame.

3. We need books of this tart cathartic virtue, more than books of
political science, or of private economy. Life is a festival only to
the wise. Seen from the nook and chimney-side of prudence, it wears a
ragged and dangerous front. The violations of the laws of nature by
our predecessors and our contemporaries are punished in us also. The
disease and deformity around us certify the infraction of natural,
intellectual, and moral laws, and often violation on violation to
breed such compound misery. A lockjaw that bends a man's head back to
his heels, hydrophobia that makes him bark at his wife and babes,
insanity that makes him eat grass; war, plague, cholera, famine
indicate a certain ferocity in nature, which, as it had its inlet by
human crime, must have its outlet by human suffering. Unhappily,
almost no man exists who has not in his own person become, to some
amount, a stockholder in the sin, and so made himself liable to a
share in the expiation.

4. Our culture, therefore, must not omit the arming of the man. Let
him hear in season that he is born into the state of war, and that the
commonwealth and his own well-being require that he should not go
dancing in the weeds of peace, but warned, self-collected, and neither
defying nor dreading the thunder, let him take both reputation and
life in his hand, and, with perfect urbanity, dare the gibbet and the
mob by the absolute truth of his speech, and the rectitude of his

5. Toward all this external evil, the man within the breast assumes a
warlike attitude, and affirms his ability to cope single-handed with
the infinite army of enemies. To this military attitude of the soul we
give the name of Heroism. Its rudest form is the contempt for safety
and ease, which makes the attractiveness of war. It is a self-trust
which slights the restraints of prudence, in the plenitude of its
energy and power to repair the harms it may suffer. The hero is a mind
of such balance that no disturbances can shake his will, but
pleasantly, and, as it were, merrily, he advances to his own music,
alike in frightful alarms, and in the tipsy mirth of universal
dissoluteness. There is somewhat not philosophical in heroism; there
is somewhat not holy in it; it seems not to know that other souls are
of one texture with it; it has pride; it is the extreme of individual
nature. Nevertheless, we must profoundly revere it. There is somewhat
in great actions, which does not allow us to go behind them. Heroism
feels and never reasons, and therefore is always right; and although a
different breeding, different religion, and greater intellectual
activity, would have modified or even reversed the particular action,
yet for the hero, that thing he does is the highest deed, and is not
open to the censure of philosophers or divines. It is the avowal of
the unschooled man, that he finds a quality in him that is negligent
of expense, of health, of life, of danger, of hatred, of reproach, and
knows that his will is higher and more excellent than all actual and
all possible antagonists.

6. Heroism works in contradiction to the voice of mankind, and in
contradiction, for a time, to the voice of the great and good. Heroism
is an obedience[332] to a secret impulse of an individual's character.
Now to no other man can its wisdom appear as it does to him, for every
man must be supposed to see a little further on his own proper path
than any one else. Therefore, just and wise men take umbrage at his
act, until after some little time be past: then they see it to be in
unison with their acts. All prudent men see that the action is clean
contrary to a sensual prosperity; for every heroic act measures itself
by its contempt of some external good. But it finds its own success
at last, and then the prudent also extol.

7. Self-trust is the essence of heroism. It is the state of the soul
at war, and its ultimate objects are the last defiance of falsehood
and wrong, and the power to bear all that can be inflicted by evil
agents. It speaks the truth, and it is just, generous, hospitable,
temperate, scornful of petty calculations, and scornful of being
scorned. It persists; it is of an undaunted boldness, and of a
fortitude not to be wearied out. Its jest is the littleness of common
life. That false prudence which dotes on health and wealth is the butt
and merriment of heroism. Heroism, like Plotinus,[333] is almost
ashamed of its body. What shall it say, then, to the sugar-plums, and
cats'-cradles, to the toilet, compliments, quarrels, cards, and
custard, which rack the wit of all human society. What joys has kind
nature provided for us dear creatures! There seems to be no interval
between greatness and meanness. When the spirit is not master of the
world then it is its dupe. Yet the little man takes the great hoax so
innocently, works in it so headlong and believing, is born red, and
dies gray, arranging his toilet, attending on his own health, laying
traps for sweet food and strong wine, setting his heart on a horse or
a rifle, made happy with a little gossip or a little praise, that the
great soul cannot choose but laugh at such earnest nonsense. "Indeed,
these humble considerations[334] make me out of love with greatness.
What a disgrace is it to me to take note how many pairs of silk
stockings thou hast, namely, these and those that were the
peach-colored ones; or to bear the inventory of thy shirts, as one for
superfluity, and one other for use!"

8. Citizens, thinking after the laws of arithmetic, consider the
inconvenience of receiving strangers at their fireside, reckon
narrowly the loss of time and the unusual display: the soul of a
better quality thrusts back the unreasonable economy into the vaults
of life, and says, I will obey the God, and the sacrifice and the fire
he will provide. Ibn Hankal,[335] the Arabian geographer, describes a
heroic extreme in the hospitality of Sogd, in Bokhar,[336] "When I was
in Sogd I saw a great building, like a palace, the gates of which were
open and fixed back to the wall with large nails. I asked the reason,
and was told that the house had not been shut, night or day, for a
hundred years. Strangers may present themselves at any hour, and in
whatever number; the master has amply provided for the reception of
the men and their animals, and is never happier than when they tarry
for some time. Nothing of the kind have I seen in any other country."
The magnanimous know very well that they who give time, or money, or
shelter, to the stranger--so it be done for love, and not for
ostentation--do, as it were, put God under obligation to them, so
perfect are the compensations of the universe. In some way the time
they seem to lose is redeemed, and the pains they seem to take
remunerate themselves. These men fan the flame of human love, and
raise the standard of civil virtue among mankind. But hospitality must
be for service, and not for show, or it pulls down the host. The brave
soul rates itself too high to value itself by the splendor of its
table and draperies. It gives what it hath, and all it hath, but its
own majesty can lend a better grace to bannocks[337] and fair water
than belong to city feasts.

9. The temperance of the hero proceeds from the same wish to do no
dishonor to the worthiness he has. But he loves it for its elegancy,
not for its austerity. It seems not worth his while to be solemn, and
denounce with bitterness flesh-eating or wine-drinking, the use of
tobacco, or opium, or tea, or silk, or gold. A great man scarcely
knows how he dines, how he dresses; but without railing or precision,
his living is natural and poetic. John Eliot,[338] the Indian Apostle,
drank water, and said of wine,--"It is a noble, generous liquor, and
we should be humbly thankful for it, but, as I remember, water was
made before it." Better still is the temperance of king David[339] who
poured out on the ground unto the Lord the water which three of his
warriors had brought him to drink, at the peril of their lives.

10. It is told of Brutus,[340] that when he fell on his sword, after
the battle of Philippi,[341] he quoted a line of Euripides,[342]--"O
virtue! I have followed thee through life, and I find thee at last but
a shade." I doubt not the hero is slandered by this report. The heroic
soul does not sell its justice and its nobleness. It does not ask to
dine nicely, and to sleep warm. The essence of greatness is the
perception that virtue is enough. Poverty is its ornament. It does not
need plenty, and can very well abide its loss.

11. But that which takes my fancy most, in the heroic class, is the
good humor and hilarity they exhibit. It is a height to which common
duty can very well attain, to suffer and to dare with solemnity. But
these rare souls set opinion, success, and life, at so cheap a rate,
that they will not soothe their enemies by petitions, or the show of
sorrow, but wear their own habitual greatness. Scipio,[343] charged
with peculation, refuses to do himself so great a disgrace as to wait
for justification, though he had the scroll of his accounts in his
hands, but tears it to pieces before the tribunes. Socrates'[344]
condemnation of himself to be maintained in all honor in the
Prytaneum,[345] during his life, and Sir Thomas More's[346]
playfulness at the scaffold, are of the same strain. In Beaumont and
Fletcher's "Sea Voyage," Juletta tells the stout captain and his

_Jul._ Why, slaves, 'tis in our power to hang ye.

_Master._                         Very likely,
'Tis in our powers, then, to be hanged, and scorn ye.

These replies are sound and whole. Sport is the bloom and glow of a
perfect health. The great will not condescend to take anything
seriously; all must be as gay as the song of a canary, though it were
the building of cities, or the eradication of old and foolish
churches and nations, which have cumbered the earth long thousands of
years. Simple hearts put all the history and customs of this world
behind them, and play their own play in innocent defiance of the
Blue-Laws[347] of the world; and such would appear, could we see the
human race assembled in vision, like little children frolicking
together; though, to the eyes of mankind at large, they wear a stately
and solemn garb of works and influences.

12. The interest these fine stories have for us, the power of a
romance over the boy who grasps the forbidden book under his bench at
school, our delight in the hero, is the main fact to our purpose. All
these great and transcendent properties are ours. If we dilate in
beholding the Greek energy, the Roman pride, it is that we are already
domesticating the same sentiment. Let us find room for this great
guest in our small houses. The first step of worthiness will be to
disabuse us of our superstitious associations with places and times,
with number and size. Why should these words, Athenian, Roman, Asia,
and England, so tingle in the ear? Where the heart is, there the
muses, there the gods sojourn, and not in any geography of fame.
Massachusetts, Connecticut River, and Boston Bay, you think paltry
places, and the ear loves names of foreign and classic topography. But
here we are; and, if we will tarry a little, we may come to learn that
here is best. See to it only that thyself is here;--and art and
nature, hope and fate, friends, angels, and the Supreme Being, shall
not be absent from the chamber where thou sittest. Epaminondas,[348]
brave and affectionate, does not seem to us to need Olympus[349] to
die upon, nor the Syrian sunshine. He lies very well where he is. The
Jerseys[350] were handsome ground enough for Washington to tread, and
London streets for the feet of Milton.[351] A great man makes his
climate genial in the imagination of men, and its air the beloved
element of all delicate spirits. That country is the fairest, which is
inhabited by the noblest minds. The pictures which fill the
imagination in reading the actions of Pericles,[352] Xenophon,[353]
Columbus,[354] Bayard,[355] Sidney,[356] Hampden,[357] teach us how
needlessly mean our life is, that we, by the depth of our living,
should deck it with more than regal or national splendor, and act on
principles that should interest man and nature in the length of our

13. We have seen or heard of many extraordinary young men, who never
ripened, or whose performance in actual life was not extraordinary.
When we see their air and mien, when we hear them speak of society, or
books, or religion, we admire their superiority; they seem to throw
contempt on our entire polity and social state; theirs is the tone of
a youthful giant, who is sent to work revolutions. But they enter an
active profession, and the forming Colossus[358] shrinks to the common
size of man. The magic they used was the ideal tendencies, which
always make the Actual ridiculous; but the tough world had its revenge
the moment they put their horses of the sun to plow in its furrow.
They found no example and no companion, and their heart fainted. What
then? The lesson they gave in their first aspirations, is yet true;
and a better valor and a purer truth shall one day organize their
belief. Or why should a woman liken herself to any historical woman,
and think, because Sappho,[359] or Sevigne,[360] or De Stael,[361] or
the cloistered souls who have had genius and cultivation, do not
satisfy the imagination and the serene Themis,[362] none
can,--certainly not she. Why not? She has a new and unattempted
problem to solve, perchance that of the happiest nature that ever
bloomed. Let the maiden, with erect soul, walk serenely on her way,
accept the hint of each new experience, search, in turn, all the
objects that solicit her eye, that she may learn the power and the
charm of her new-born being which is the kindling of a new dawn in the
recesses of space. The fair girl, who repels interference by a decided
and proud choice of influences, so careless of pleasing, so wilful and
lofty, inspires every beholder with somewhat of her own nobleness. The
silent heart encourages her; O friend, never strike sail to a fear!
Come into port greatly, or sail with God the seas. Not in vain you
live, for every passing eye is cheered and refined by the vision.

14. The characteristic of a genuine heroism is its persistency. All
men have wandering impulses, fits and starts of generosity. But when
you have chosen your part, abide by it, and do not weakly try to
reconcile yourself with the world. The heroic cannot be the common,
nor the common the heroic. Yet we have the weakness to expect the
sympathy of people in those actions whose excellence is that they
outrun sympathy, and appeal to a tardy justice. If you would serve
your brother, because it is fit for you to serve him, do not take back
your words when you find that prudent people do not commend you.
Adhere to your own act, and congratulate yourself if you have done
something strange and extravagant, and broken the monotony of a
decorous age. It was a high counsel[363] that I once heard given to a
young person,--"Always do what you are afraid to do." A simple manly
character need never make an apology, but should regard its past
action with the calmness of Phocion,[364] when he admitted that the
event of the battle was happy, yet did not regret his dissuasion from
the battle.

15. There is no weakness or exposure for which we cannot find
consolation in the thought,--this is a part of my constitution, part
of my relation and office to my fellow-creature. Has nature covenanted
with me that I should never appear to disadvantage, never make a
ridiculous figure? Let us be generous of our dignity as well as of our
money. Greatness once and forever has done with opinion. We tell our
charities, not because we wish to be praised for them, not because we
think they have great merit, but for our justification. It is a
capital blunder; as you discover, when another man recites his

16. To speak the truth, even with some austerity, to live with some
rigor of temperance, or some extremes of generosity, seems to be an
asceticism which common good-nature would appoint to those who are at
ease and in plenty, in sign that they feel a brotherhood with the
great multitude of suffering men. And not only need we breathe and
exercise the soul by assuming the penalties of abstinence, of debt, of
solitude, of unpopularity, but it behooves the wise man to look with a
bold eye into those rarer dangers which sometimes invade men, and to
familiarize himself with disgusting forms of disease, with sounds of
execration, and the vision of violent death.

17. Times of heroism are generally times of terror, but the day never
shines in which this element may not work. The circumstances of man,
we say, are historically somewhat better in this country, and at this
hour, than perhaps ever before. More freedom exists for culture. It
will not now run against an ax at the first step out of the beaten
track of opinion. But whoso is heroic will always find crises to try
his edge. Human virtue demands her champions and martyrs, and the
trial of persecution always proceeds. It is but the other day that the
brave Lovejoy[365] gave his breast to the bullets of a mob, for the
rights of free speech and opinion, and died when it was better not to

18. I see not any road to perfect peace which a man can walk, but to
take counsel of his own bosom. Let him quit too much association, let
him go home much, and establish himself in those courses he approves.
The unremitting retention of simple and high sentiments in obscure
duties is hardening the character to that temper which will work with
honor, if need be, in the tumult, or on the scaffold. Whatever
outrages have happened to men may befall a man again; and very easily
in a republic, if there appear any signs of a decay of religion.
Coarse slander, fire, tar and feathers, and the gibbet, the youth may
freely bring home to his mind, and with what sweetness of temper he
can, and inquire how fast he can fix his sense of duty, braving such
penalties, whenever it may please the next newspaper and a sufficient
number of his neighbors to pronounce his opinions incendiary.

19. It may calm the apprehension of calamity in the most susceptible
heart to see how quick a bound nature has set to the utmost infliction
of malice. We rapidly approach a brink over which no enemy can follow

                "Let them rave:[366]
    Thou art quiet in thy grave."

In the gloom of our ignorance of what shall be, in the hour when we
are deaf to the higher voices, who does not envy them who have seen
safely to an end their manful endeavor? Who that sees the meanness of
our politics, but inly congratulates Washington that he is long
already wrapped in his shroud, and forever safe; that he was laid
sweet in his grave, the hope of humanity not yet subjugated in him?
Who does not sometimes envy the good and brave, who are no more to
suffer from the tumults of the natural world, and await with curious
complacency the speedy term of his own conversation with finite
nature? And yet the love that will be annihilated sooner than
treacherous has already made death impossible, and affirms itself no
mortal, but a native of the deeps of absolute and inextinguishable


1. Half the world, it is said, knows not how the other half live. Our
Exploring Expedition saw the Feejee Islanders[368] getting their
dinner off human bones; and they are said to eat their own wives and
children. The husbandry of the modern inhabitants of Gournou[369]
(west of old Thebes) is philosophical to a fault. To set up their
housekeeping, nothing is requisite but two or three earthen pots, a
stone to grind meal, and a mat which is the bed. The house, namely, a
tomb, is ready without rent or taxes. No rain can pass through the
roof, and there is no door, for there is no want of one, as there is
nothing to lose. If the house do not please them, they walk out and
enter another, as there are several hundreds at their command. "It is
somewhat singular," adds Berzoni, to whom we owe this account, "to
talk of Happiness among people who live in sepulchers, among corpses
and rags of an ancient nation which they knew nothing of." In the
deserts of Borgoo[370] the rock-Tibboos still dwell in caves, like
cliff-swallows, and the language of these negroes is compared by their
neighbors to the shrieking of bats, and to the whistling of birds.
Again, the Bornoos[371] have no proper names; individuals are called
after their height, thickness, or other accidental quality, and have
nick-names merely. But the salt, the dates, the ivory, and the gold,
for which these horrible regions are visited, find their way into
countries, where the purchaser and consumer can hardly be ranked in
one race with these cannibals and man-stealers; countries where man
serves himself with metals, wood, stone, glass, gum, cotton, silk and
wool; honors himself with architecture;[372] writes laws, and
contrives to execute his will through the hands of many nations; and,
especially, establishes a select society, running through all the
countries of intelligent men, a self-constituted aristocracy, or
fraternity of the best, which, without written law, or exact usage of
any kind, perpetuates itself, colonizes every new-planted island, and
adopts and makes its own whatever personal beauty or extraordinary
native endowment anywhere appears.

2. What fact more conspicuous in modern history, than the creation of
the gentleman? Chivalry[373] is that, and loyalty is that, and, in
English literature, half the drama, and all the novels, from Sir
Philip Sidney[374] to Sir Walter Scott,[375] paint this figure. The
word _gentleman_, which, like the word Christian, must hereafter
characterize the present and the few preceding centuries, by the
importance attached to it, is a homage to personal and incommunicable
properties. Frivolous and fantastic additions have got associated with
the name, but the steady interest of mankind in it must be attributed
to the valuable properties which it designates. An element which
unites all the most forcible persons of every country; makes them
intelligible and agreeable to each other, and is somewhat so precise,
that it is at once felt if an individual lack the masonic sign,[376]
cannot be any casual product, but must be an average result of the
character and faculties universally found in men. It seems a certain
permanent average; as the atmosphere is a permanent composition,
whilst so many gases are combined only to be decompounded. _Comme il
faut_, is the Frenchman's description of good society, _as we must
be_. It is a spontaneous fruit of talents and feelings of precisely
that class who have most vigor, who take the lead in the world of this
hour, and, though far from pure, far from constituting the gladdest
and highest tone of human feeling, is as good as the whole society
permits it to be. It is made of the spirit, more than of the talent of
men, and is a compound result, into which every great force enters as
an ingredient, namely, virtue, wit, beauty, wealth, and power.

3. There is something equivocal in all the words in use to express the
excellence of manners and social cultivation, because the qualities
are fluxional, and the last effect is assumed by the senses as the
cause. The word _gentleman_ has not any correlative abstract[377] to
express the quality. _Gentility_ is mean, and _gentilesse_[378] is
obsolete. But we must keep alive in the vernacular the distinction
between _fashion_, a word of narrow and often sinister meaning, and
the heroic character which the gentleman imports. The usual words,
however, must be respected: they will be found to contain the root of
the matter. The point of distinction in all this class of names, as
courtesy, chivalry, fashion, and the like, is, that the flower and
fruit, not the grain of the tree, are contemplated. It is beauty which
is the aim this time, and not worth. The result is now in question,
although our words intimate well enough the popular feeling, that the
appearance supposes a substance. The gentleman is a man of truth, lord
of his own actions, and expressing that lordship in his behavior, not
in any manner dependent and servile either on persons, or opinions, or
possessions. Beyond this fact of truth and real force, the word
denotes good-nature and benevolence: manhood first, and then
gentleness. The popular notion certainly adds a condition of ease and
fortune; but that is a natural result of personal force and love, that
they should possess and dispense the goods of the world. In times of
violence, every eminent person must fall in with many opportunities to
approve his stoutness and worth; therefore every man's name that
emerged at all from the mass in the feudal ages,[379] rattles in our
ear like a flourish of trumpets. But personal force never goes out of
fashion. That is still paramount to-day, and, in the moving crowd of
good society, the men of valor and reality are known, and rise to
their natural place. The competition is transferred from war to
politics and trade, but the personal force appears readily enough in
these new arenas.

4. Power first, or no leading class. In politics and in trade,
bruisers and pirates are of better promise than talkers and clerks.
God knows[380] that all sorts of gentlemen knock at the door; but
whenever used in strictness, and with any emphasis, the name will be
found to point at original energy. It describes a man standing in his
own right, and working after untaught methods. In a good lord, there
must first be a good animal, at least to the extent of yielding the
incomparable advantage of animal spirits.[381] The ruling class must
have more, but they must have these, giving in every company the sense
of power,[382] which makes things easy to be done which daunt the
wise. The society of the energetic class, in their friendly and
festive meetings, is full of courage, and of attempts, which
intimidate the pale scholar. The courage which girls exhibit is like a
battle of Lundy's Lane,[383] or a sea-fight. The intellect relies on
memory to make some supplies to face these extemporaneous squadrons.
But memory is a base mendicant with basket and badge, in the presence
of these sudden masters. The rulers of society must be up to the work
of the world, and equal to their versatile office: men of the right
Caesarian pattern,[384] who have great range of affinity. I am far from
believing the timid maxim[385] of Lord Falkland,[386] ("That for
ceremony there must go two to it; since a bold fellow will go through
the cunningest forms,") and am of opinion that the gentleman is the
bold fellow whose forms are not to be broken through; and only that
plenteous nature is rightful master, which is the complement of
whatever person it converses with. My gentleman gives the law where he
is; he will outpray saints in chapel, outgeneral veterans in the
field, and outshine all courtesy in the hall. He is good company for
pirates, and good with academicians; so that it is useless to fortify
yourself against him; he has the private entrance to all minds, and I
could as easily exclude myself as him. The famous gentlemen of Asia
and Europe have been of this strong type: Saladin,[387] Sapor,[388]
the Cid,[389] Julius Caesar,[390] Scipio,[391] Alexander,[392]
Pericles,[393] and the lordliest personages. They sat very carelessly
in their chairs, and were too excellent themselves to value any
condition at a high rate.

5. A plentiful fortune is reckoned necessary, in the popular judgment,
to the completion of this man of the world: and it is a material deputy
which walks through the dance which the first has led. Money is not
essential, but this wide affinity is, which transcends the habits of
clique and caste, and makes itself felt by men of all classes. If the
aristocrat is only valid in fashionable circles, and not with truckmen,
he will never be a leader in fashion; and if the man of the people
cannot speak on equal terms with the gentleman, so that the gentleman
shall perceive that he is already really of his own order, he is not to
be feared. Diogenes,[394] Socrates,[395] and Epaminondas[396] are
gentlemen of the best blood, who have chosen the condition of poverty,
when that of wealth was equally open to them. I use these old names, but
the men I speak of are my contemporaries.[397] Fortune will not supply
to every generation one of these well-appointed knights, but every
collection of men furnishes some example of the class: and the politics
of this country, and the trade of every town, are controlled by these
hardy and irresponsible doers, who have invention to take the lead, and
a broad sympathy which puts them in fellowship with crowds, and makes
their action popular.

6. The manners of this class are observed and caught with devotion by
men of taste. The association of these masters with each other, and
with men intelligent of their merits, is mutually agreeable and
stimulating. The good forms, the happiest expressions of each, are
repeated and adopted. By swift consent, everything superfluous is
dropped, everything graceful is renewed. Fine manners[398] show
themselves formidable to the uncultivated man. They are a subtler
science of defence to parry and intimidate; but once matched by the
skill of the other party, they drop the point of the sword,--points
and fences disappear, and the youth finds himself in a more
transparent atmosphere, wherein life is a less troublesome game, and
not a misunderstanding rises between the players. Manners aim to
facilitate life, to get rid of impediments, and bring the man pure to
energize. They aid our dealing and conversation, as a railway aids
traveling, by getting rid of all avoidable obstructions of the road,
and leaving nothing to be conquered but pure space. These forms very
soon become fixed, and a fine sense of propriety is cultivated with
more heed, that it becomes a badge of social and civil distinctions.
Thus grows up Fashion, an equivocal semblance, the most puissant, the
most fantastic and frivolous, the most feared and followed, and which
morals and violence assault in vain.

7. There exists a strict relation between the class of power, and the
exclusive and polished circles. The last are always filled or filling
from the first. The strong men usually give some allowance even to the
petulances of fashion, for that affinity they find in it.
Napoleon,[399] child of the revolution, destroyer of the old
noblesse,[400] never ceased to court the Faubourg St. Germain:[401]
doubtless with the feeling, that fashion is a homage to men of his
stamp. Fashion, though in a strange way, represents all manly virtue.
It is a virtue gone to seed: it is a kind of posthumous honor. It does
not often caress the great, but the children of the great: it is a
hall of the Past. It usually sets its face against the great of this
hour. Great men are not commonly in its halls: they are absent in the
field: they are working, not triumphing. Fashion is made up of their
children; of those, who, through the value and virtue of somebody,
have acquired lustre to their name, marks of distinction, means of
cultivation and generosity, and, in their physical organization, a
certain health and excellence, which secures to them, if not the
highest power to work, yet high power to enjoy. The class of power,
the working heroes, the Cortez,[402] the Nelson,[403] the Napoleon,
see that this is the festivity and permanent celebration of such as
they; that fashion is funded talent; is Mexico,[404] Marengo,[405] and
Trafalgar[406][407] beaten out thin; that the brilliant names of
fashion run back to just such busy names as their own, fifty or sixty
years ago. They are the sowers, their sons shall be the reapers, and
_their_ sons, in the ordinary course of things, must yield the
possession of the harvest, to new competitors with keener eyes and
stronger frames. The city is recruited from the country. In the year
1805, it is said, every legitimate monarch in Europe was imbecile. The
city would have died out, rotted, and exploded, long ago, but that it
was reinforced from the fields. It is only country which came to town
day before yesterday, that is city and court to-day.

8. Aristocracy and fashion are certain inevitable results. These
mutual selections are indestructible. If they provoke anger in the
least favored class, and the excluded majority revenge themselves on
the excluding minority, by the strong hand, and kill them, at once a
new class finds itself at the top, as certainly as cream rises in a
bowl of milk: and if the people should destroy class after class,
until two men only were left, one of these would be the leader, and
would be involuntarily served and copied by the other. You may keep
this minority out of sight and out of mind, but it is tenacious of
life, and is one of the estates of the realm.[408] I am the more
struck with this tenacity, when I see its work. It respects the
administration of such unimportant matters, that we should not look
for any durability in its rule. We sometimes meet men under some
strong moral influence, as a patriotic, a literary, a religious
movement, and feel that the moral sentiment rules man and nature. We
think all other distinctions and ties will be slight and fugitive,
this of caste or fashion, for example; yet come from year to year, and
see how permanent that is, in this Boston or New York life of man,
where, too, it has not the lease countenance from the law of the land.
Not in Egypt or in India a firmer or more impassable line. Here are
associations whose ties go over, and under, and through it, a meeting
of merchants, a military corps, a college-class, a fire-club, a
professional association, a political, a religious convention;--the
persons seem to draw inseparably near; yet that assembly once
dispersed, its members will not in the year meet again. Each returns
to his degree in the scale of good society, porcelain remains
porcelain, and earthen earthen. The objects of fashion may be
frivolous, or fashion may be objectless, but the nature of this union
and selection can be neither frivolous nor accidental. Each man's rank
in that perfect graduation depends on some symmetry in his structure,
or some agreement in his structure to the symmetry of society. Its
doors unbar instantaneously to a natural claim of their own kind. A
natural gentleman finds his way in, and will keep the oldest patrician
out, who has lost his intrinsic rank. Fashion understands itself;
good-breeding and personal superiority of whatever country readily
fraternize with those of every other. The chiefs of savage tribes have
distinguished themselves in London and Paris, by the purity of their

9. To say what good of fashion we can,--it rests on reality, and hates
nothing so much as pretenders;--to exclude and mystify pretenders, and
send them into everlasting "Coventry,"[410] is its delight. We
contemn, in turn, every other gift of men of the world; but the habit,
even in little and the least matters, of not appealing to any but our
own sense of propriety, constitutes the foundation of all chivalry.
There is almost no kind of self-reliance, so it be sane and
proportioned, which fashion does not occasionally adopt, and give it
the freedom of its saloons. A sainted soul is always elegant, and, if
it will, passes unchallenged into the most guarded ring. But so will
Jock the teamster pass, in some crisis that brings him thither, and
find favor, as long as his head is not giddy with the new
circumstance, and the iron shoes do not wish to dance in waltzes and
cotillions. For there is nothing settled in manners, but the laws of
behavior yield to the energy of the individual. The maiden at her
first ball, the countryman at a city dinner, believes that there is a
ritual according to which every act and compliment must be performed,
or the failing party must be cast out of this presence. Later, they
learn that good sense and character make their own forms every moment,
and speak or abstain, to take wine or refuse it, stay or go, sit in a
chair or sprawl with children on the floor, or stand on their head, or
what else soever, in a new and aboriginal way: and that strong will is
always in fashion, let who will be unfashionable. All that fashion
demands is composure, and self-content. A circle of men perfectly
well-bred would be a company of sensible persons, in which every man's
native manners and character appear. If the fashionist have not this
quality, he is nothing. We are such lovers of self-reliance, that we
excuse in man many sins, if he will show us a complete satisfaction in
his position, which asks no leave to be of mine, or any man's good
opinion. But any deference to some eminent man or woman of the world,
forfeits all privilege of nobility. He is an underling: I have nothing
to do with him; I will speak with his master. A man should not go
where he cannot carry his whole sphere or society with him,--not
bodily, the whole circle of his friends, but atmospherically. He
should preserve in a new company the same attitude of mind and reality
of relation, which his daily associates draw him to, else he is shorn
of his best beams, and will be an orphan in the merriest club. "If you
could see Vich Ian Vohr with his tail on![411]--" But Vich Ian Vohr
must always carry his belongings in some fashion, if not added as
honor, then severed as disgrace.

10. There will always be in society certain persons who are
mercuries[412] of its approbation, and whose glance will at any time
determine for the curious their standing in the world. These are the
chamberlains of the lesser gods. Accept their coldness as an omen of
grace with the loftier deities, and allow them all their privilege.
They are clear in their office, nor could they be thus formidable,
without their own merits. But do not measure the importance of this
class by their pretension, or imagine that a fop can be the dispenser
of honor and shame. They pass also at their just rate; for how can
they otherwise, in circles which exist as a sort of herald's
office[413] for the sifting of character?

11. As the first thing man requires of man is reality, so that appears
in all the forms of society. We pointedly, and by name, introduce the
parties to each other. Know you before all heaven and earth, that this
is Andrew, and this is Gregory;--they look each other in the eye; they
grasp each other's hand, to identify and signalize each other. It is a
great satisfaction. A gentleman never dodges; his eyes look straight
forward, and he assures the other party, first of all, that he has
been met. For what is it that we seek, in so many visits and
hospitalities? Is it your draperies, pictures, and decorations? Or, do
we not insatiably ask. Was a man in the house? I may easily go into a
great household where there is much substance, excellent provision for
comfort, luxury, and taste, and yet not encounter there any
Amphitryon,[414] who shall subordinate these appendages. I may go into
a cottage, and find a farmer who feels that he is the man I have come
to see, and fronts me accordingly. It was therefore a very natural
point of old feudal etiquette, that a gentleman who received a visit,
though it were of his sovereign, should not leave his roof, but should
wait his arrival at the door of his house. No house, though it were
the Tuileries,[415] or the Escurial,[416] is good for anything without
a master. And yet we are not often gratified by this hospitality.
Everybody we know surrounds himself with a fine house, fine books,
conservatory, gardens, equipage, and all manner of toys, as screens to
interpose between himself and his guests. Does it not seem as if man
was of a very sly, elusive nature, and dreaded nothing so much as a
full renconter front to front with his fellow? It were unmerciful, I
know, quite to abolish the use of these screens, which are of eminent
convenience, whether the guest is too great, or too little. We call
together many friends who keep each other in play, or by luxuries and
ornaments we amuse the young people, and guard our retirement. Or if,
perchance, a searching realist comes to our gate, before whose eyes we
have no care to stand, then again we run to our curtain, and hide
ourselves as Adam[417] at the voice of the Lord God in the garden.
Cardinal Caprara,[418] the Pope's[419] legate at Paris, defended
himself from the glances of Napoleon, by an immense pair of green
spectacles. Napoleon remarked them, and speedily managed to rally them
off: and yet Napoleon, in his turn, was not great enough, with eight
hundred thousand troops at his back, to face a pair of free-born eyes,
but fenced himself with etiquette, and within triple barriers of
reserve: and, as all the world knows from Madame de Stael,[420] was
wont, when he found himself observed, to discharge his face of all
expression. But emperors and rich men are by no means the most
skillful masters of good manners. No rent roll nor army-list can
dignify skulking and dissimulations: and the first point of courtesy
must always be truth, as really all forms of good-breeding point that

12. I have just been reading, in Mr. Hazlitt's[421] translation,
Montaigne's[422] account of his journey into Italy, and am struck with
nothing more agreeably than the self-respecting fashions of the time.
His arrival in each place, the arrival of a gentleman of France, is an
event of some consequence. Wherever he goes, he pays a visit to
whatever prince or gentleman of note resides upon his road, as a duty
to himself and to civilization. When he leaves any house in which he
has lodged for a few weeks, he causes his arms to be painted and hung
up as a perpetual sign to the house, as was the custom of gentlemen.

13. The complement of this graceful self-respect, and that of all the
points of good breeding I most require and insist upon, is deference.
I like that every chair should be a throne, and hold a king. I prefer
a tendency to stateliness, to an excess of fellowship. Let the
incommunicable objects of nature and the metaphysical isolation of man
teach us independence. Let us not be too much acquainted. I would have
a man enter his house through a hall filled with heroic and sacred
sculptures, that he might not want the hint of tranquillity and
self-poise.[423] We should meet each morning, as from foreign
countries, and spending the day together, should depart at night, as
into foreign countries. In all things I would have the island of a man
inviolate. Let us sit apart as the gods, talking from peak to peak all
round Olympus. No degree of affection need invade this religion. This
is myrrh and rosemary to keep the other sweet. Lovers should guard
their strangeness. If they forgive too much, all slides into confusion
and meanness. It is easy to push this deference to a Chinese
etiquette;[424] but coolness and absence of heat and haste indicate
fine qualities. A gentleman makes no noise: a lady is serene
Proportionate is our disgust at those invaders who fill a studious
house with blast and running, to secure some paltry convenience. Not
less I dislike a low sympathy of each with his neighbors's needs. Must
we have a good understanding with one another's palates? as foolish
people who have lived long together, know when each wants salt or
sugar. I pray my companion, if he wishes for bread, to ask me for
bread, and if he wishes for sassafras or arsenic, to ask me for them,
and not to hold out his plate, as if I knew already. Every natural
function can be dignified by deliberation and privacy. Let us leave
hurry to slaves. The compliments and ceremonies of our breeding should
recall,[425] however remotely, the grandeur of our destiny.

14. The flower of courtesy does not very well bide handling, but if we
dare to open another leaf, and explore what parts go to its
conformation, we shall find also an intellectual quality. To the
leaders of men, the brain as well as the flesh and the heart must
furnish a proportion. Defect in manners is usually the defect of fine
perceptions. Men are too coarsely made for the delicacy of beautiful
carriage and customs. It is not quite sufficient to good breeding, a
union of kindness and independence. We imperatively require a
perception of, and a homage to, beauty in our companions. Other
virtues are in request in the field and work yard, but a certain
degree of taste is not to be spared in those we sit with. I could
better eat with one who did not respect the truth or the laws, than
with a sloven and unpresentable person. Moral qualities rule the
world, but at short distances the senses are despotic. The same
discrimination of fit and fair runs out, if with less rigor, into all
parts of life. The average spirit of the energetic class is good
sense, acting under certain limitations and to certain ends. It
entertains every natural gift. Social in its nature, it respects
everything which tends to unite men. It delights in measure.[426] The
love of beauty is mainly the love of measure or proportion. The person
who screams, or uses the superlative degree, or converses with heat,
puts whole drawing-rooms to flight. If you wish to be loved, love
measure. You must have genius, or a prodigious usefulness, if you will
hide the want of measure. This perception comes in to polish and
perfect the parts of the social instrument. Society will pardon much
to genius and special gifts, but, being in its nature a convention, it
loves what is conventional, or what belongs to coming together. That
makes the good and bad of manners, namely, what helps or hinders
fellowship. For, fashion is not good sense absolute, but relative; not
good sense private, but good sense entertaining company. It hates
corners and sharp points of character, hates quarrelsome, egotistical,
solitary, and gloomy people; hates whatever can interfere with total
blending of parties; whilst it values all peculiarities as in the
highest degree refreshing, which can consist with good fellowship. And
besides the general infusion of wit to heighten civility, the direct
splendor of intellectual power is ever welcome in fine society as the
costliest addition to its rule and its credit.

15. The dry light must shine in to adorn our festival, but it must be
tempered and shaded, or that will also offend. Accuracy is essential
to beauty, and quick perceptions to politeness, but not too quick
perceptions. One may be too punctual and too precise. He must leave
the omniscience of business at the door, when he comes into the palace
of beauty. Society loves creole natures,[427] and sleepy, languishing
manners, so that they cover sense, grace, and good-will: the air of
drowsy strength, which disarms criticism; perhaps, because such a
person seems to reserve himself for the best of the game, and not
spend himself on surfaces; an ignoring eye, which does not see the
annoyances, shifts, and inconveniences, that cloud the brow and
smother the voice of the sensitive.

16. Therefore, besides personal force and so much perception as
constitutes unerring taste, society demands in its patrician class,
another element already intimated, which it significantly terms
good-nature, expressing all degrees of generosity, from the lowest
willingness and faculty to oblige, up to the heights of magnanimity
and love. Insight we must have, or we shall run against one another,
and miss the way to our food; but intellect is selfish and barren. The
secret of success in society, is a certain heartiness and sympathy. A
man who is not happy in the company, cannot find any word in his
memory that will fit the occasion. All his information is a little
impertinent. A man who is happy there, finds in every turn of the
conversation equally lucky occasions for the introduction of that
which he has to say. The favorites of society, and what it calls
_whole souls_, are able men, and of more spirit than wit, who have no
uncomfortable egotism, but who exactly fill the hour and the company,
contented and contenting, at a marriage or a funeral, a ball or a
jury, a water-party or a shooting-match. England, which is rich in
gentlemen, furnished, in the beginning of the present century, a good
model of that genius which the world loves, in Mr. Fox,[428] who
added to his great abilities the most social disposition, and real
love of men. Parliamentary history has few better passages than the
debate, in which Burke[429] and Fox separated in the House of Commons;
when Fox urged on his old friend the claims of old friendship with
such tenderness, that the house was moved to tears. Another anecdote
is so close to my matter, that I must hazard the story. A tradesman
who had long dunned him for a note of three hundred guineas, found him
one day counting gold, and demanded payment. "No," said Fox, "I owe
this money to Sheridan[430]: it is a debt of honor: if an accident
should happen to me, he has nothing to show." "Then," said the
creditor, "I change my debt into a debt of honor," and tore the note
in pieces. Fox thanked the man for his confidence, and paid him,
saying, "his debt was of older standing, and Sheridan must wait."
Lover of liberty, friend of the Hindoo, friend of the African slave,
he possessed a great personal popularity; and Napoleon said of him on
the occasion of his visit to Paris, in 1805, "Mr. Fox will always hold
the first place in an assembly at the Tuileries."

17. We may easily seem ridiculous in our eulogy of courtesy, whenever
we insist on benevolence as its foundation. The painted phantasm
Fashion rises to cast a species of derision on what we say. But I will
neither be driven from some allowance to Fashion as a symbolic
institution, nor from the belief that love is the basis of courtesy.
"We must obtain _that_, if we can; but by all means we must affirm
_this_. Life owes much of its spirit to these sharp contrasts. Fashion
which affects to be honor, is often, in all men's experience, only a
ballroom code. Yet, so long as it is the highest circle, in the
imagination of the best heads on the planet, there is something
necessary and excellent in it; for it is not to be supposed that men
have agreed to be the dupes of anything preposterous; and the respect
which these mysteries inspire in the most rude and sylvan characters,
and the curiosity with which details of high life are read, betray the
universality of the love of cultivated manners. I know that a comic
disparity would be felt, if we should enter the acknowledged 'first
circles,' and apply these terrific standards of justice, beauty, and
benefit, to the individuals actually found there. Monarchs and heroes,
sages and lovers, these gallants are not. Fashion has many classes and
many rules of probation and admission; and not the best alone. There
is not only the right of conquest, which genius pretends,--the
individual, demonstrating his natural aristocracy best of the
best;--but less claims will pass for the time; for Fashion loves
lions, and points, like Circe,[431] to her horned company. This
gentleman is this afternoon arrived from Denmark; and that is my Lord
Ride, who came yesterday from Bagdad; here is Captain Friese, from
Cape Turnagain, and Captain Symmes,[432] from the interior of the
earth; and Monsieur Jovaire, who came down this morning in a balloon;
Mr. Hobnail, the reformer; and Reverend Jul Bat, who has converted
the whole torrid zone in his Sunday school; and Signer Torre del
Greco, who extinguished Vesuvius by pouring into it the Bay of Naples;
Spahr, the Persian ambassador; and Tul Wil Shan, the exiled nabob of
Nepaul, whose saddle is the new moon.--But these are monsters of one
day, and to-morrow will be dismissed to their holes and dens; for, in
these rooms every chair is waited for. The artist, the scholar, and,
in general, the clerisy,[433] wins its way up into these places, and
gets represented here, somewhat on this footing of conquest. Another
mode is to pass through all the degrees, spending a year and a day in
St. Michael's Square,[434] being steeped in Cologne water,[435] and
perfumed, and dined, and introduced, and properly grounded in all the
biography, and politics, and anecdotes of the boudoirs.

18. Yet these fineries may have grace and wit. Let there be grotesque
sculpture about the gates and offices of temples. Let the creed and
commandments even have the saucy homage of parody. The forms of
politeness universally express benevolence in superlative degrees.
What if they are in the mouths of selfish men, and used as means of
selfishness? What if the false gentleman almost bows the true out of
the world? What if the false gentleman contrives so to address his
companion, as civilly to exclude all others from his discourse, and
also to make them feel excluded? Real service will not lose its
nobleness. All generosity is not merely French and sentimental; nor is
it to be concealed, that living blood and a passion of kindness does
at last distinguish God's gentleman from Fashion's. The epitaph of Sir
Jenkin Grout is not wholly unintelligible to the present age. "Here
lies Sir Jenkin Grout, who loved his friend, and persuaded his enemy:
what his mouth ate, his hand paid for: what his servants robbed, he
restored: if a woman gave him pleasure, he supported her in pain: he
never forgot his children: and whoso touched his finger, drew after it
his whole body." Even the line of heroes is not utterly extinct. There
is still ever some admirable person in plain clothes, standing on the
wharf, who jumps in to rescue a drowning man; there is still some
absurd inventor of charities; some guide and comforter of runaway
slaves; some friend of Poland;[436] some Philhellene;[437] some
fanatic who plants shade-trees for the second and third generation,
and orchards when he is grown old; some well-concealed piety; some
just man happy in an ill-fame; some youth ashamed of the favors of
fortune, and impatiently casting them on other shoulders. And these
are the centers of society, on which it returns for fresh impulses.
These are the creators of Fashion, which is an attempt to organize
beauty of behavior. The beautiful and the generous are in the theory,
the doctors and apostles of this church: Scipio, and the Cid, and Sir
Philip Sidney, and Washington, and every pure and valiant heart, who
worshiped Beauty by word and by deed. The persons who constitute the
natural aristocracy, are not found in the actual aristocracy, or only
on its edge; as the chemical energy of the spectrum is found to be
greatest just outside of the spectrum. Yet that is the infirmity of
the seneschals, who do not know their sovereign, when he appears. The
theory of society supposes the existence and sovereignty of these. It
divines afar off their coming. It says with the elder gods,--

    "As Heaven and Earth are fairer far[438]
    Than Chaos and blank Darkness, though once chiefs;
    And as we show beyond that Heaven and Earth,
    In form and shape compact and beautiful;
    So, on our heels a fresh perfection treads;
    A power, more strong in beauty, born of us,
    And fated to excel us, as we pass
    In glory that old Darkness:
     ... for, 'tis the eternal law,
    That first in beauty shall be first in might."

19. Therefore, within the ethnical circle of good society, there is a
narrower and higher circle, concentration of its light, and flower of
courtesy, to which there is always a tacit appeal of pride and
reference, as to its inner and imperial court, the parliament of love
and chivalry. And this is constituted of those persons in whom heroic
dispositions are native, with the love of beauty, the delight in
society, and the power to embellish the passing day. If the
individuals who compose the purest circles of aristocracy in Europe,
the guarded blood of centuries, should pass in review, in such manner
as that we could, leisurely and critically, inspect their behavior, we
might find no gentleman, and no lady; for although excellent specimens
of courtesy and high-breeding would gratify us in the assemblage, in
the particulars, we should detect offense. Because, elegance comes of
no breeding, but of birth. There must be romance of character, or the
most fastidious exclusion of impertinencies will not avail. It must be
genius which takes that direction: it must be not courteous, but
courtesy. High behavior is as rare in fiction as it is in fact. Scott
is praised for the fidelity with which he painted the demeanor and
conversation of the superior classes. Certainly, kings and queens,
nobles and great ladies, had some right to complain of the absurdity
that had been put in their mouths, before the days of Waverley;[439]
but neither does Scott's dialogue bear criticism. His lords brave each
other in smart epigrammatic speeches, but the dialogue is in costume,
and does not please on the second reading; it is not warm with life.
In Shakespeare alone, the speakers do not strut and bridle, the
dialogue is easily great, and he adds to so many titles that of being
the best-bred man in England, and in Christendom. Once or twice in a
lifetime we are permitted to enjoy the charm of noble manners, in the
presence of a man or woman who have no bar in their nature, but whose
character emanates freely in their word and gesture. A beautiful form
is better than a beautiful face: a beautiful behavior is better than a
beautiful form: it gives a higher pleasure than statues or pictures;
it is the finest of the fine arts. A man is but a little thing in the
midst of the objects of nature, yet, by the moral quality radiating
from his countenance, he may abolish all considerations of magnitude,
and in his manners equal the majesty of the world. I have seen an
individual whose manners though wholly within the conventions of
elegant society, were never learned there, but were original and
commanding, and held out protection and prosperity; one who did not
need the aid of a court-suit, but carried the holiday in his eye; who
exhilarated the fancy by flinging wide the doors of new modes of
existence; who shook off the captivity of etiquette, with happy,
spirited bearing, good-natured and free as Robin Hood;[440] yet with
the port of an emperor,--if need be, calm, serious, and fit to stand
the gaze of millions.

20. The open air and the fields, the street and public chambers, are
the places where Man executes his will; let him yield or divide the
scepter at the door of the house. Woman, with her instinct of
behavior, instantly detects in man a love of trifles, any coldness or
imbecility, or, in short, any want of that large, flowing, and
magnanimous deportment, which is indispensable as an exterior in the
hall. Our American institutions have been friendly to her, and at this
moment I esteem it a chief felicity of this country, that it excels in
women. A certain awkward consciousness of inferiority in the men, may
give rise to the new chivalry in behalf of Woman's Rights. Certainly,
let her be as much better placed in the laws and in social forms, as
the most zealous reformer can ask, but I confide so entirely in her
inspiring and musical nature, that I believe only herself can show us
how she shall be served. The wonderful generosity of her sentiments
raises her at times into heroical and godlike regions, and verifies
the pictures of Minerva,[441] Juno,[442] or Polymnia;[443] and, by the
firmness with which she treads her upward path, she convinces the
coarsest calculators that another road exists than that which their
feet know. But besides those who make good in our imagination the
place of muses and of Delphic Sibyls,[444] are there not women who
fill our vase with wine and roses to the brim, so that the wine runs
over and fills the house with perfume; who inspire us with courtesy;
who unloose our tongues, and we speak; who anoint our eyes, and we
see? We say things we never thought to have said; for once, our walls
of habitual reserve vanished, and left us at large; we were children
playing with children in a wide field of flowers. Steep us, we cried,
in these influences, for days, for weeks, and we shall be sunny poets,
and will write out in many-colored words the romance that you are. Was
it Hafiz[445] or Firdousi[446] that said of his Persian Lilla, "She
was an elemental force, and astonished me by her amount of life, when
I saw her day after day radiating, every instant, redundant joy and
grace on all around her.[447] She was a solvent powerful to reconcile
all heterogeneous persons into one society; like air or water, an
element of such a great range of affinities, that it combines readily
with a thousand substances. Where she is present, all others will be
more than they are wont. She was a unit and whole, so that whatsoever
she did, became her. She had too much sympathy and desire to please,
than that you could say, her manners were marked with dignity, yet no
princess could surpass her clear and erect demeanor on each occasion.
She did not study the Persian grammar, nor the books of the seven
poets, but all the poems of the seven seemed to be written upon her.
For, though the bias of her nature was not to thought, but to
sympathy, yet was she so perfect in her own nature, as to meet
intellectual persons by the fullness of her heart, warming them by her
sentiments; believing, as she did, that by dealing nobly with all, all
would show themselves noble."

21. I know that this Byzantine[448] pile of chivalry of Fashion, which
seems so fair and picturesque to those who look at the contemporary
facts for science or for entertainment, is not equally pleasant to all
spectators. The constitution of our society makes it a giant's castle
to the ambitious youth who have not found their names enrolled in its
Golden Book,[449] and whom it has excluded from its coveted honors and
privileges. They have yet to learn that its seeming grandeur is
shadowy and relative: it is great by their allowance: its proudest
gates will fly open at the approach of their courage and virtue. For
the present distress, however, of those who are predisposed to suffer
from the tyrannies of this caprice, there are easy remedies. To remove
your residence a couple of miles, or at most four, will commonly
relieve the most extreme susceptibility. For, the advantages which
fashion values are plants which thrive in very confined localities,
in a few streets, namely. Out of this precinct, they go for nothing;
are of no use in the farm, in the forest, in the market, in war, in
the nuptial society, in the literary or scientific circle, at sea, in
friendship, in the heaven of thought or virtue.

22. But we have lingered long enough in these painted courts. The
worth of the thing signified must vindicate our taste for the emblem.
Everything that is called fashion and courtesy humbles itself before
the cause and fountain of honor, creator of titles and dignities,
namely, the heart of love. This is the royal blood, this the fire,
which, in all countries and contingencies, will work after its kind
and conquer ind expand all that approaches it. This gives new meanings
to every fact. This impoverishes the rich, suffering no grandeur but
its own. What _is_ rich? Are you rich enough to help anybody? to
succor the unfashionable and the eccentric? rich enough to make the
Canadian in his wagon, the itinerant with his consul's paper which
commends him "To the charitable," the swarthy Italian with his few
broken words of English, the lame pauper hunted by overseers from town
to town, even the poor insane or besotted wreck of man or woman, feel
the noble exception of your presence and your house, from the general
bleakness and stoniness; to make such feel that they were greeted with
a voice which made them both remember and hope? What is vulgar, but to
refuse the claim on acute and conclusive reasons? What is gentle, but
to allow it, and give their heart and yours lone holiday from the
national caution? Without the rich heart, wealth is an ugly beggar.
The king of Schiraz[450] could not afford to be so bountiful as the
poor Osman[451] who dwelt at his gate. Osman had a humanity so broad
and deep, that although his speech was so bold and free with the
Koran[452] as to disgust all the dervishes, yet was there never a poor
outcast, eccentric, or insane man, some fool who had cut off his
beard, or who had been mutilated under a vow, or had a pet madness in
his brain, but fled at once to him,--that great heart lay there so
sunny and hospitable in the center of the country,--that it seemed as
if the instinct of all sufferers drew them to his side. And the
madness which he harbored, he did not share. Is not this to be rich?
this only to be rightly rich?

23. But I shall hear without pain, that I play the courtier very ill,
and talk of that which I do not well understand. It is easy to see,
that what is called by distinction society and fashion, has good laws
as well as bad, has much that is necessary, and much that is absurd.
Too good for banning, and too bad for blessing, it reminds us of a
tradition of the pagan mythology, in any attempt to settle its
character. "I overheard Jove,[453] one day," said Silenus,[454]
"talking of destroying the earth; he said, it had failed; they were
all rogues and vixens, who went from bad to worse, as fast as the days
succeeded each other. Minerva said, she hoped not; they were only
ridiculous little creatures, with this odd circumstance, that they had
a blur, or indeterminate aspect, seen far or seen near; if you called
them bad, they would appear so; if you called them good, they would
appear so; and there was no one person or action among them, which
would not puzzle her owl,[455] much more all Olympus, to know whether
it was fundamentally bad or good."


    Gifts of one who loved me--
    'Twas high time they came;
    When he ceased to love me,
    Time they stopped for shame.

1. It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy, that the
world owes the world more than the world can pay, and ought to go into
chancery,[457] and be sold. I do not think this general insolvency,
which involves in some sort all the population, to be the reason of
the difficulty experienced at Christmas and New Year, and other times,
in bestowing gifts; since it is always so pleasant to be generous,
though very vexatious to pay debts. But the impediment lies in the
choosing. If, at any time, it comes into my head that a present is due
from me to somebody, I am puzzled what to give, until the opportunity
is gone. Flowers and fruits are always fit presents; flowers, because
they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the
utilities of the world. These gay natures contrast with the somewhat
stern countenance of ordinary nature: they are like music heard out of
a work-house. Nature does not cocker us:[458] we are children, not
pets: she is not fond: everything is dealt to us without fear or
favor, after severe universal laws. Yet these delicate flowers look
like the frolic and interference of love and beauty. Men use to tell
us that we love flattery, even though we are not deceived by it,
because it shows that we are of importance enough to be courted.
Something like that pleasure, the flowers give us: what am I to whom
these sweet hints are addressed? Fruits are acceptable gifts,[459]
because they are the flower of commodities, and admit of fantastic
values being attached to them. If a man should send to me to come a
hundred miles to visit him, and should set before me a basket of fine
summer-fruit, I should think there was some proportion between the
labor and the reward.

2. For common gifts, necessity makes pertinences and beauty every day,
and one is glad when an imperative leaves him no option, since if the
man at the door have no shoes, you have not to consider whether you
could procure him a paint-box. And as it is always pleasing to see a
man eat bread or drink water, in the house or out of doors, so it is
always a great satisfaction to supply these first wants. Necessity
does everything well. In our condition of universal dependence, it
seems heroic to let the petitioner[460] be the judge of his necessity,
and to give all that is asked, though at great inconvenience. If it be
a fantastic desire, it is better to leave to others the office of
punishing him. I can think of many parts I should prefer playing to
that of the Furies.[461] Next to things of necessity, the rule for a
gift, which one of my friends prescribed, is that we might convey to
some person that which properly belonged to his character, and was
easily associated with him in thought. But our tokens of compliment
and love are for the most part barbarous. Rings and other jewels are
not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of
thyself. Thou must bleed for me. Therefore the poet brings his poem;
the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a gem; the
sailor, coral and shells; the painter, his picture; the girl, a
handkerchief of her own sewing. This is right and pleasing, for it
restores society in so far to its primary basis, when a man's
biography[462] is conveyed in his gift, and every man's wealth is an
index of his merit. But it is a cold lifeless business when you go to
the shops to buy me something which does not represent your life and
talent, but a goldsmith's. That is fit for kings, and rich men who
represent kings, and a false state of property, to make presents of
gold and silver stuffs, as a kind of symbolical sin-offering,[463] or
payment of blackmail.[464]

3. The law of benefits is a difficult channel, which requires careful
sailing, or rude boats. It is not the office of a man to receive
gifts. How dare you give them? We wish to be self-sustained. We do not
quite forgive a forgiver. The hand that feeds us is in some danger of
being bitten. We can receive anything from love, for that is a way of
receiving it from ourselves; but not from any one who assumes to
bestow. We sometimes hate the meat which we eat, because there seems
something of degrading dependence in living by it.

    "Brother, if Jove[465] to thee a present make,
    Take heed that from his hands thou nothing take."

We ask the whole. Nothing less will content us. We arraign society, if
it do not give us besides earth, and fire, and water, opportunity,
love, reverence, and objects of veneration.

4. He is a good man, who can receive a gift well. We are either glad
or sorry at a gift, and both emotions are unbecoming. Some violence, I
think, is done, some degradation borne, when I rejoice or grieve at a
gift. I am sorry when my independence is invaded, or when a gift comes
from such as do not know my spirit, and so the act is not supported;
and if the gift pleases me overmuch, then I should be ashamed that the
donor should read my heart, and see that I love his commodity, and not
him. The gift, to be true, must be the flowing of the giver unto me,
correspondent to my flowing unto him. When the waters are at level,
then my goods pass to him, and his to me. All his are mine, all mine
his. I say to him, How can you give me this pot of oil, or this flagon
of wine, when all your oil and wine is mine, which belief of mine this
gift seems to deny? Hence the fitness of beautiful, not useful things
for gifts. This giving is flat usurpation, and therefore when the
beneficiary is ungrateful, as all beneficiaries hate all Timons,[466]
not at all considering the value of the gift, but looking back to the
greater store it was taken from, I rather sympathize with the
beneficiary, than with the anger of my lord, Timon. For, the
expectation of gratitude is mean, and is continually punished by the
total insensibility of the obliged person. It is a great happiness to
get off without injury and heart-burning, from one who has had the ill
luck to be served by you. It is a very onerous business,[467] this of
being served, and the debtor naturally wishes to give you a slap. A
golden text for these gentlemen is that which I admire in the
Buddhist,[468] who never thanks, and who says, "Do not flatter your

5. The reason of these discords I conceive to be, that there is no
commensurability between a man and any gift. You cannot give anything
to a magnanimous person. After you have served him, he at once puts
you in debt by his magnanimity. The service a man renders his friend
is trivial and selfish, compared with the service he knows his friend
stood in readiness to yield him, alike before he had begun to serve
his friend, and now also. Compared with that good-will I bear my
friend, the benefit it is in my power to render him seems small.
Besides, our action on each other, good as well as evil, is so
incidental and at random, that we can seldom hear the acknowledgments
of any person who would thank us for a benefit, without some shame and
humiliation. We can rarely strike a direct stroke, but must be content
with an oblique one; we seldom have the satisfaction of yielding a
direct benefit, which is directly received. But rectitude scatters
favors on every side without knowing it, and receives with wonder the
thanks of all people.

6. I fear to breathe any treason against the majesty of love, which is
the genius and god of gifts, and to whom we must not affect to
prescribe. Let him give kingdoms or flower-leaves indifferently. There
are persons from whom we always expect fairy tokens; let us not cease
to expect them. This is prerogative, and not to be limited by our
municipal rules. For the rest, I like to see that we cannot be bought
and sold. The best of hospitality and of generosity is also not in the
will, but in fate. I find that I am not much to you; you do not need
me; you do not feel me; then am I thrust out of doors, though you
proffer me house and lands. No services are of any value, but only
likeness. When I have attempted to join myself to others by services,
it proved an intellectual trick--no more. They eat your service like
apples, and leave you out. But love them, and they feel for you, and
delight in you all the time.


    The rounded world is fair to see,
    Nine times folded in mystery:
    Though baffled seers cannot impart
    The secret of its laboring heart,
    Throb thine with Nature's throbbing breast,
    And all is clear from east to west.
    Spirit that lurks each form within
    Beckons to spirit of its kin;
    Self-kindled every atom glows,
    And hints the future which it owes.

1. There are days[470] which occur in this climate, at almost any
season of the year, wherein the world reaches its perfection, when the
air, the heavenly bodies, and the earth, make a harmony, as if nature
would indulge her offspring; when, in these bleak upper sides of the
planet, nothing is to desire that we have heard of the happiest
latitudes, and we bask in the shining hours of Florida and Cuba; when
everything that has life gives sign of satisfaction, and the cattle
that lie on the ground seem to have great and tranquil thoughts. These
halcyons[471] may be looked for with a little more assurance in that
pure October weather, which we distinguish by the name of Indian
Summer.[472] The day, immeasurably long, sleeps over the broad hills
and warm wide fields. To have lived through all its sunny hours,
seems longevity enough. The solitary places do not seem quite lonely.
At the gates of the forest, the surprised man of the world is forced
to leave his city estimates of great and small, wise and foolish. The
knapsack of custom falls off his back with the first step he makes
into these precincts. Here is sanctity which shames our religions, and
reality which discredits our heroes. Here we find nature to be the
circumstance which dwarfs every other circumstance, and judges like a
god all men that come to her. We have crept out of our close and
crowded houses into the night and morning, and we see what majestic
beauties daily wrap us in their bosom. How willingly we would escape
the barriers which render them comparatively impotent, escape the
sophistication and second thought, and suffer nature to entrance us.
The tempered light of the woods is like a perpetual morning, and is
stimulating and heroic. The anciently reported spells of these places
creep on us. The stems of pines, hemlocks, and oaks, almost gleam like
iron on the excited eye. The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us
to live with them, and quit our life of solemn trifles. Here no
history, or church, or state, is interpolated on the divine sky and
the immortal year. How easily we might walk onward into opening
landscape, absorbed by new pictures, and by thoughts fast succeeding
each other, until by degrees the recollection of home was crowded out
of the mind, all memory obliterated by the tyranny of the present,
and we were led in triumph by nature.

2. These enchantments are medicinal, they sober and heal us. These are
plain pleasures, kindly and native to us. We come to our own, and make
friends with matter, which the ambitious chatter of the schools would
persuade us to despise. We never can part with it; the mind loves its
old home: as water to our thirst, so is the rock, the ground, to our
eyes, and hands, and feet. It is firm water: it is cold flame: what
health, what affinity! Ever an old friend, ever like a dear friend and
brother, when we chat affectedly with strangers, comes in this honest
face, and takes a grave liberty with us, and shames us out of our
nonsense. Cities give not the human senses room enough. We go out
daily and nightly to feed the eyes on the horizon, and require so much
scope, just as we need water for our bath. There are all degrees of
natural influence, from these quarantine powers of nature, up to her
dearest and gravest ministrations to the imagination and the soul.
There is the bucket of cold water from the spring, the wood-fire to
which the chilled traveler rushes for safety,--and there is the
sublime moral of autumn and of noon. We nestle in nature, and draw our
living as parasites from her roots and grains, and we receive glances
from the heavenly bodies, which call us to solitude, and foretell the
remotest future. The blue zenith is the point in which romance and
reality meet. I think, if we should be rapt away into all that we
dream of heaven, and should converse with Gabriel[473] and Uriel,[474]
the upper sky would be all that would remain of our furniture.

3. It seems as if the day was not wholly profane, in which we have
given heed to some natural object. The fall of snowflakes in a still
air, preserving to each crystal its perfect form; the blowing of sleet
over a wide sheet of water, and over plains; the waving rye-fields;
the mimic waving of acres of houstonia, whose innumerable florets
whiten and ripple before the eye; the reflections of trees and flowers
in glassy lakes; the musical steaming odorous south wind, which
converts all trees to wind-harps;[475] the crackling and spurting of
hemlock in the flames; or of pine-logs, which yield glory to the walls
and faces in the sitting-room,--these are the music and pictures of
the most ancient religion. My house stands in low land, with limited
outlook, and on the skirt of the village.[476] But I go with my
friend[477] to the shore of our little river,[478] and with one stroke
of the paddle, I leave the village politics and personalities, yes,
and the world of villages and personalities behind, and pass into a
delicate realm of sunset and moonlight, too bright almost for spotted
man to enter without novitiate and probation.[479] We penetrate bodily
this incredible beauty: we dip our hands in this painted element: our
eyes are bathed in these lights and forms. A holiday, a
villeggiatura,[480] a royal revel, the proudest, most heart-rejoicing
festival that valor and beauty, power and taste, ever decked and
enjoyed, establishes itself on the instant. These sunset clouds, these
delicately emerging stars, with their private and ineffable glances,
signify it and proffer it. I am taught the poorness of our invention,
the ugliness of towns and palaces. Art and luxury have early learned
that they must work as enhancement and sequel to this original beauty.
I am overinstructed for my return. Henceforth I shall be hard to
please. I cannot go back to toys. I am grown expensive and
sophisticated. I can no longer live without elegance: but a countryman
shall be my master of revels. He who knows the most, he who knows what
sweets and virtues are in the ground, the waters, the plants, the
heavens, and how to come at these enchantments, is the rich and royal
man. Only as far as masters of the world have called in nature to
their aid, can they reach the height of magnificence. This is the
meaning of their hanging-gardens,[481] villas, garden-houses, islands,
parks, and preserves, to back their faulty personality with these
strong accessories. I do not wonder that the landed interest should be
invincible in the state with these dangerous auxiliaries. These bribe
and invite; not kings, not palaces, not men, not women, but these
tender and poetic stars, eloquent of secret promises. We heard what
the rich man said, we knew of his villa, his grove, his wine, and his
company, but the provocation and point of the invitation came out of
these beguiling stars. In their soft glances, I see what men strove to
realize in some Versailles,[482] or Paphos,[483] or Ctesiphon.[484]
Indeed, it is the magical lights of the horizon, and the blue sky for
the background, which save all our works of art, which were otherwise
baubles. When the rich tax the poor with servility and obsequiousness,
they should consider the effect of man reputed to be the possessors of
nature, on imaginative minds. Ah! if the rich were rich as the poor
fancy riches! A boy hears a military band play on the field at night,
and he has kings and queens, and famous chivalry palpably before him.
He hears the echoes of a horn in a hill country, in the Notch
Mountains,[485] for example, which converts the mountains into an
AEolian harp,[486] and this supernatural _tiralira_ restores to him the
Dorian[487] mythology, Apollo,[488] Diana,[489] and all divine hunters
and huntresses. Can a musical note be so lofty, so haughtily
beautiful! To the poor young poet, thus fabulous is his picture of
society; he is loyal; he respects the rich; they are rich for the sake
of his imagination; how poor his fancy would be, if they were not
rich! That they have some high-fenced grove, which they call a park;
that they live in larger and better-garnished saloons than he has
visited, and go in coaches, keeping only the society of the elegant,
to watering-places, and to distant cities, are the groundwork from
which he has delineated estates of romance, compared with which their
actual possessions are shanties and paddocks. The muse herself betrays
her son, and enhances the gift of wealthy and well-born beauty, by a
radiation out of the air, and clouds, and forests that skirt the
road,--a certain haughty favor, as if from patrician genii to
patricians, a kind of aristocracy in nature, a prince of the power of
the air.

4. The moral sensibility which makes Edens[490] and Tempes[491] so
easily, may not be always found, but the material landscape is never
far off. We can find these enchantments without visiting the Como
Lake,[492] or the Madeira Islands.[493] We exaggerate the praises of
local scenery. In every landscape, the point of astonishment is the
meeting of the sky and the earth, and that is seen from the first
hillock as well as from the top of the Alleghanies. The stars at night
stoop down over the brownest, homeliest common,[494] with all the
spiritual magnificence which they shed on the Campagna,[495] or on the
marble deserts of Egypt. The uprolled clouds and the colors of morning
and evening, will transfigure maples and alders. The difference
between landscape and landscape is small, but there is great
difference in the beholders. There is nothing so wonderful in any
particular landscape, as the necessity of being beautiful under which
every landscape lies. Nature cannot be surprised in undress. Beauty
breaks in everywhere.

5. But it is very easy to outrun the sympathy of readers on this
topic, which school-men called _natura naturata_, or nature passive.
One can hardly speak directly of it without excess. It is as easy to
broach in mixed companies what is called "the subject of religion." A
susceptible person does not like to indulge his tastes in this kind,
without the apology of some trivial necessity: he goes to see a
wood-lot, or to look at the crops, or to fetch a plant or a mineral
from a remote locality, or he carries a fowling-piece, or a
fishing-rod. I suppose this shame must have a good reason. A
dilettantism[496] in nature is barren and unworthy. The fop of fields
is no better than his brother of Broadway. Men are naturally hunters
and inquisitive of woodcraft and I suppose that such a gazetteer as
wood-cutters and Indians should furnish facts for would take place in
the most sumptuous drawing-rooms of all the "Wreaths" and "Flora's
chaplets"[497] of the book-shops; yet ordinarily, whether we are too
clumsy for so subtle a topic, or from whatever cause, as soon as men
begin to write on nature, they fall into euphuism. Frivolity is a most
unfit tribute to Pan,[498] who ought to be represented in the
mythology as the most continent of gods. I would not be frivolous
before the admirable reserve and prudence of time, yet I cannot
renounce the right of returning often to this old topic. The multitude
of false churches[499] accredits the true religion. Literature,
poetry, science, are the homage of man to this unfathomed secret,
concerning which no sane man can affect an indifference or
incuriosity. Nature is loved by what is best in us. It is loved as the
city of God, although, or rather because there is no citizen. The
sunset is unlike anything that is underneath it: it wants men. And the
beauty of nature must always seem unreal and mocking, until the
landscape has human figures, that are as good as itself. If there
were good men, there would never be this rapture in nature. If the
king is in the palace nobody looks at the walls. It is when he is
gone, and the house is filled with grooms and gazers, that we turn
from the people, to find relief in the majestic men that are suggested
by the pictures and architecture. The critics who complain of the
sickly separation of the beauty of nature from the thing to be done,
must consider that our hunting of the picturesque is inseparable from
our protest against false society. Man is fallen; nature is erect, and
serves as a differential thermometer, detecting the presence or
absence of the divine sentiment in man. By fault of our dulness and
selfishness, we are looking up to nature, but when we are
convalescent, nature will look up to us. We see the foaming brook with
compunction; if our own life flowed with the right energy, we should
shame the brook. The stream of zeal sparkles with real fire, and not
with reflex rays of sun and moon. Nature may be as selfishly studied
as trade. Astronomy to the selfish becomes astrology; psychology,
mesmerism (with intent to show where our spoons are gone); and anatomy
and physiology become phrenology and palmistry.

6. But taking timely warning, and leaving many things unsaid on this
topic, but not longer omit our homage to the Efficient Nature, _natura
naturans_, the quick cause, before which all forms flee as the driven
snows, itself secret, its works driven before it in flocks and
multitudes, (as the ancient represented nature by Proteus,[500] a
shepherd), and in undescribable variety. It publishes itself in
creatures, reaching from particles and spicula, through transformation
on transformation to the highest symmetries, arriving at consummate
results without a shock or a leap. A little heat, that is, a little
motion, is all that differences the bald, dazzling white, and deadly
cold poles of the earth from the prolific tropical climates. All changes
pass without violence, by reason of the two cardinal conditions of
boundless space and boundless time. Geology has initiated us into the
secularity of nature, and taught us to disuse our dame-school measures,
and exchange our Mosaic[501] and Ptolemaic schemes[502] for her large
style. We know nothing rightly, for want of perspective. Now we learn
what patient periods must round themselves before the rock is formed,
then before the rock is broken, and the first lichen race has
disintegrated the thinnest external plate into soil, and opened the door
for the remote Flora,[503] Fauna,[504] Ceres,[505] and Pomona,[506] to
come in. How far off yet is the trilobite! how far the quadruped! how
inconceivably remote is man! All duly arrive,[507] and then race after
race of men. It is a long way from granite to the oyster; farther yet to
Plato,[508] and the preaching of the immortality of the soul. Yet all
must come, as surely as the first atom has two sides.

7. Motion or change, and identity or rest, are the first and second
secrets of nature: Motion and Rest. The whole code of her laws may be
written on the thumb-nail, or the signet of a ring. The whirling
bubble on the surface of a brook, admits us to the secret of the
mechanics of the sky. Every shell on the beach is a key to it. A
little water made to rotate in a cup explains the formation of the
simpler shells; the addition of matter from year to year, arrives at
last at the most complex forms; and yet so poor is nature with all her
craft, that, from the beginning to the end of the universe, she has
but one stuff,--but one stuff with its two ends, to serve up all her
dream-like variety. Compound it how she will, star, sand, fire, water,
tree, man, it is still one stuff, and betrays the same properties.

8. Nature is always consistent, though she feigns to contravene her
own laws. She keeps her laws, and seems to transcend them. She arms
and equips an animal to find its place and living in the earth, and,
at the same time, she arms and equips another animal to destroy it.
Space exists to divide creatures; but by clothing the sides of a bird
with a few feathers, she gives him a petty omnipresence. The direction
is forever onward, but the artist still goes back for materials, and
begins again with the first elements on the most advanced stage:
otherwise, all goes to ruin. If we look at her work, we seem to catch
a glance of a system in transition. Plants are the young of the world,
vessels of health and vigor; but they grope ever upward toward
consciousness; the trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their
imprisonment, rooted in the ground. The animal is the novice and
probationer of a more advanced order. The men, though young, having
tasted the first drop from the cup of thought, are already dissipated:
the maples and ferns are still uncorrupt; yet no doubt, when they come
to consciousness, they too will curse and swear. Flowers so strictly
belong to youth, that we adult men soon come to feel, that their
beautiful generations concern not us: we have had our day; now let the
children have theirs. The flowers jilt us, and we are old bachelors
with our ridiculous tenderness.

9. Things are so strictly related, that according to the skill of the
eye, from any one object the parts and properties of any other may be
predicted. If we had eyes to see it, a bit of stone from the city wall
would certify us of the necessity that man must exist, as readily as
the city. That identity makes us all one, and reduces to nothing great
intervals on our customary scale. We talk of deviations from natural
life, as if artificial life were not also natural. The smoothest
curled courtier in the boudoirs of a palace has an animal nature, rude
and aboriginal as a white bear, omnipotent to its own ends, and is
directly related, there amid essences and billets-doux, to Himalaya
mountain-chains[509] and the axis of the globe. If we consider how
much we are nature's, we need not be superstitious about towns, as if
that terrific or benefic force did not find us there also, and fashion
cities. Nature, who made the mason, made the house. We may easily hear
too much of rural influences. The cool, disengaged air of natural
objects, makes them enviable to us, chafed and irritable creatures
with red faces, and we think we shall be as grand as they, if we camp
out and eat roots, but let us be men instead of wood-chucks, and the
oak and the elm shall gladly serve us, though we sit in chairs of
ivory on carpets of silk.

10. This guiding identity runs through all the surprises and contrasts
of the piece, and characterizes every law. Man carries the world in
his head, the whole astronomy and chemistry suspended in a thought.
Because the history of nature is charactered in his brain, therefore
is he the prophet and discoverer of her secrets. Every known fact in
natural science was divined by the presentiment of somebody, before it
was actually verified. A man does not tie his shoe without recognizing
laws which bind the farthest regions of nature: moon, plant, gas,
crystal, are concrete geometry and numbers. Common sense knows its
own, and recognizes the fact at first sight in chemical experiment.
The common sense of Franklin,[510] Dalton,[511] Davy[512] and
Black,[513] is the same common sense which made the arrangements which
now it discovers.

11. If the identity expresses organized rest, the counter action runs
also into organization. The astronomers said,[514] "Give us matter,
and a little motion, and we will construct the universe. It is not
enough that we should have matter, we must also have a single impulse,
one shove to launch the mass, and generate the harmony of the
centrifugal and centripetal[515] forces. Once heave the ball from the
hand, and we can show how all this mighty order grew." "A very
unreasonable postulate," said the metaphysicians, "and a plain begging
of the question. Could you not prevail to know the genesis of
projection, as well as the continuation of it?" Nature, meanwhile, had
not waited for the discussion, but, right or wrong, bestowed the
impulse, and the balls rolled. It was no great affair, a mere push,
but the astronomers were right in making much of it, for there is no
end of the consequences of the act. That famous aboriginal push
propagates itself through all the balls of the system, and through
every atom of every ball, through all the races of creatures, and
through the history and performances of every individual. Exaggeration
is in the course of things. Nature sends no creature, no man into the
world, without adding a small excess of his proper quality. Given the
planet, it is still necessary to add the impulse; so, to every
creature nature added a little violence of direction in its proper
path, a shove to put it on its way; in every instance, a slight
generosity, a drop too much. Without electricity the air would rot,
and without this violence of direction which men and women have,
without a spice of bigot and fanatic, no excitement, no efficiency. We
aim above the mark, to hit the mark. Every act hath some falsehood of
exaggeration in it. And when now and then comes along some sad,
sharp-eyed man, who sees how paltry a game is played, and refuses to
play, but blabs the secret;--how then? is the bird flown? O no, the
wary Nature sends a new troop of fairer forms, of lordlier youths,
with a little more excess of direction to hold them fast to their
several aims; makes them a little wrongheaded in that direction in
which they are rightest, and on goes the game again with new whirl,
for a generation or two more. The child with his sweet pranks, the
fool of his senses, commanded by every sight and sound, without any
power to compare and rank his sensations, abandoned to a whistle or a
painted chip, to a lead dragoon, or a ginger-bread dog,
individualizing everything, generalizing nothing, delighted with every
new thing, lies down at night overpowered by the fatigue, which this
day of continual petty madness has incurred. But Nature has answered
her purpose with the curly, dimpled lunatic. She has tasked every
faculty, and has secured the symmetrical growth of the bodily frame,
by all these attitudes and exertions,--an end of the first importance,
which could not be trusted to any care less perfect than her own. This
glitter, this opaline luster plays round the top of every toy to his
eye, to insure his fidelity, and he is deceived to his good. We are
made alive and kept alive by the same arts. Let the Stoics[516] say
what they please, we do not eat for the good of living, but because
the meat is savory and the appetite is keen. The vegetable life does
not content itself with casting from the flower or the tree a single
seed, but it fills the air and earth with a prodigality of seeds,
that if thousands perish, thousands may plant themselves, that
hundreds may come up, that tens may live to maturity, that, at least,
one may replace the parent. All things betray the same calculated
profusion. The excess of fear with which the animal frame is hedged
round, shrinking from cold, starting at sight of a snake, or a sudden
noise, protects us, through a multitude of groundless alarms, from
some one real danger at last. The lover seeks in marriage his private
felicity and perfection, with no prospective end; and nature hides in
his happiness her own end, namely, progeny, or the perpetuity of the

12. But the craft with which the world is made runs also into the mind
and character of men. No man is quite sane; each has a vein of folly in
his composition, a slight determination of blood to the head, to make
sure of holding him hard to some one point which nature had taken to
heart. Great causes are never tried on their merits; but the cause is
reduced to particulars to suit the size of the partisans, and the
contention is ever hottest on minor matters. Not less remarkable is the
overfaith of each man in the importance of what he has to do or say. The
poet, the prophet, has a higher value for what he utters than any
hearer, and therefore it gets spoken. The strong, self-complacent
Luther[517] declares with an emphasis, not to be mistaken, that "God
himself cannot do without wise men." Jacob Behmen[518] and George
Fox[519] betray their egotism in the pertinacity of their controversial
tracts, and James Naylor[520] once suffered himself to be worshiped as
the Christ. Each prophet comes presently to identify himself with his
thought, and to esteem his hat and shoes sacred. However this may
discredit such persons with the judicious, it helps them with the
people, as it gives heat, pungency, and publicity to their words. A
similar experience is not infrequent in private life. Each young and
ardent person writes a diary, in which, when the hours of prayer and
penitence arrive, he inscribes his soul. The pages thus written are, to
him, burning and fragrant: he reads them on his knees by midnight and by
the morning star; he wets them with his tears: they are sacred; too good
for the world, and hardly yet to be shown to the dearest friend. This is
the man-child that is born to the soul, and her life still circulates in
the babe. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. After some time has
elapsed, he begins to wish to admit his friend to this hallowed
experience, and with hesitation, yet with firmness, exposes the pages to
his eye. Will they not burn his eyes? The friend coldly turns them
over, and passes from the writing to conversation, with easy transition,
which strikes the other party with astonishment and vexation. He cannot
suspect the writing itself. Days and nights of fervid life, of communion
with angels of darkness and of light, have engraved their shadowy
characters on that tear-stained book. He suspects the intelligence or
the heart of his friend. Is there then no friend? He cannot yet credit
that one may have impressive experience, and yet may not know how to put
his private fact into literature; and perhaps the discovery that wisdom
has other tongues and ministers than we, that though we should hold our
peace, the truth would not the less be spoken, might check injuriously
the flames of our zeal. A man can only speak, so long as he does not
feel his speech to be partial and inadequate. It is partial, but he does
not see it to be so, whilst he utters it. As soon as he is released from
the instinctive and particular, and sees its partiality, he shuts his
mouth in disgust. For, no man can write anything, who does not think
that what he writes is for the time the history of the world; or do
anything well, who does not esteem his work to be of importance. My work
may be of none, but I must not think it is of none, or I shall not do it
with impunity.

13. In like manner, there is throughout nature something mocking,
something that leads us on and on, but arrives nowhere, keeps no faith
with us. All promise outruns the performance. We live in a system of
approximations. Every end is prospective of some other end, which is
also temporary; a round and final success nowhere. We are encamped in
nature, not domesticated. Hunger and thirst lead us on to eat and to
drink; but bread and wine, mix and cook them how you will, leave us
hungry and thirsty, after the stomach is full. It is the same with all
our arts and performances. Our music, our poetry, our language itself
are not satisfactions, but suggestions. The hunger for wealth, which
reduces the planet to a garden, fools the eager pursuer. What is the
end sought? Plainly to secure the ends of good sense and beauty, from
the intrusion of deformity or vulgarity of any kind. But what an
operose[521] method! What a train of means to secure a little
conversation! This palace of brick and stone, these servants, this
kitchen, these stables, horses and equipage, this bank-stock, and file
of mortgages; trade to all the world, country-house and cottage by the
water-side, all for a little conversation, high, clear, and spiritual!
Could it not be had as well by beggars on the highway? No, all these
things came from successive efforts of these beggars to remove
friction from the wheels of life, and give opportunity. Conversation,
character, were the avowed ends; wealth was good as it appeased the
animal cravings, cured the smoky chimney, silenced the creaking door,
brought friends together in a warm and quiet room, and kept the
children and the dinner-table in a different apartment. Thought,
virtue, beauty, were the ends; but it was known that men of thought
and virtue sometimes had the headache, or wet feet, or could lose good
time, whilst the room was getting warm in winter days. Unluckily, in
the exertions necessary to remove these inconveniences, the main
attention has been diverted to this object; the old aims have been
lost sight of, and to remove friction has come to be the end. That is
the ridicule of rich men, and Boston, London, Vienna, and now the
governments generally of the world, are cities and governments of the
rich, and the masses are not men, but _poor men_, that is, men who
would be rich; this is the ridicule of the class, that they arrive
with pains and sweat and fury nowhere; when all is done, it is for
nothing. They are like one who has interrupted the conversation of a
company to make his speech, and now has forgotten what he went to say.
The appearance strikes the eye everywhere of an aimless society, of
aimless nations. Were the ends of nature so great and cogent, as to
exact this immense sacrifice of men?

14. Quite analogous to the deceits in life, there is, as might be
expected, a similar effect on the eye from the face of external
nature. There is in woods and waters a certain enticement and
flattery, together with a failure to yield a present satisfaction.
This disappointment is felt in every landscape. I have seen the
softness and beauty of the summer clouds floating feathery overhead,
enjoying, as it seemed, their height and privilege of motion, whilst
yet they appeared not so much the drapery of this place and hour, as
fore-looking to such pavilions and gardens of festivity beyond. It is
an odd jealousy; but the poet finds himself not near enough to this
object. The pine tree, the river, the bank of flowers before him, does
not seem to be nature. Nature is still elsewhere. This or this is but
outskirt and far-off reflection[522] and echo of the triumph that has
passed by, and is now at its glancing splendor and heyday, perchance
in the neighboring fields, or, if you stand in the field, then in the
adjacent woods. The present object shall give you this sense of
stillness that follows a pageant which has just gone by. What splendid
distance, what recesses of ineffable pomp and loveliness in the
sunset! But who can go where they are, or lay his hand or plant his
foot thereon? Off they fall from the round world forever and ever. It
is the same among men and women as among the silent trees; always a
referred existence, an absence, never a presence and satisfaction. Is
it, that beauty can never be grasped? in persons and in landscapes is
equally inaccessible? The accepted and betrothed lover has lost the
wildest charm of his maiden in her acceptance of him. She was heaven
whilst he pursued her as a star: she cannot be heaven, if she stoops
to such a one as he.

15. What shall we say of this omnipresent appearance of that first
projectile impulse, of this flattery and balking of so many
well-meaning creatures? Must we not suppose somewhere in the universe
a slight treachery and derision? Are we not engaged to a serious
resentment of this use that is made of us? Are we tickled trout, and
fools of nature? One looks at the face of heaven and earth lays all
petulance at rest, and soothes us to wiser convictions. To the
intelligent, nature converts itself into a vast promise, and will not
be rashly explained. Her secret is untold. Many and many an
Oedipus[523] arrives: he has the whole mystery teeming in his brain.
Alas! the same sorcery has spoiled his skill; no syllable can he shape
on his lips. Her mighty orbit vaults like the fresh rainbow into the
deep, but no archangel's wing was yet strong enough to follow it, and
report of the return of the curve. But it also appears, that our
actions are seconded and disposed to greater conclusions than we
designed. We are escorted on every hand through life by spiritual
agents, and a beneficent purpose lies in wait for us. We cannot bandy
words with nature, or deal with her as we deal with persons. If we
measure our individual forces against hers, we may easily feel as if
we were the sport of an insuperable destiny. But if, instead of
identifying ourselves with the work, we feel that the soul of the
workman streams through us, we shall find the peace of the morning
dwelling first in our hearts, and the fathomless powers of gravity and
chemistry, and, over them, of life preexisting within us in their
highest form.

16. The uneasiness which the thought of our helplessness in the chain
of causes occasions us, results from looking too much at one condition
of nature, namely, Motion. But the drag is never taken from the wheel.
Wherever the impulse exceeds the Rest or Identity insinuates its
compensation. All over the wide fields of earth grows the
prunella[524] or self-heal. After every foolish day we sleep off the
fumes and furies of its hours; and though we are always engaged with
particulars, and often enslaved to them, we bring with us to every
experiment the innate universal laws. These, while they exist in the
mind as ideas, stand around us in nature forever embodied, a present
sanity to expose and cure the insanity of men. Our servitude to
particulars betrays us into a hundred foolish expectations. We
anticipate a new era from the invention of a locomotive, or a balloon;
the new engine brings with it the old checks. They say that by
electro-magnetism, your salad shall be grown from the seed whilst your
fowl is roasting for dinner: it is a symbol of our modern aims and
endeavors,--of our condensation and acceleration of objects: but
nothing is gained: nature cannot be cheated: man's life is but seventy
salads long, grow they swift or grow they slow. In these checks and
impossibilities, however, we find our advantage, not less than in
impulses. Let the victory fall where it will, we are on that side. And
the knowledge that we traverse the whole scale of being, from the
center to the poles of nature, and have some stake in every
possibility, lends that sublime luster to death, which philosophy and
religion have too outwardly and literally striven to express in the
popular doctrine of the immortality of the soul. The reality is more
excellent than the report. Here is no ruin, no discontinuity, no spent
ball. The divine circulations never rest nor linger. Nature is the
incarnation of a thought, and turns to a thought again, as ice becomes
water and gas. The world is mind precipitated, and the volatile
essence is forever escaping again into the state of free thought.
Hence the virtue and pungency of the influence on the mind, of natural
objects, whether inorganic or organized. Man imprisoned, man
crystallized, man vegetative, speaks to man impersonated. That power
which does not respect quantity, which makes the whole and the
particle its equal channel, delegates its smile to the morning, and
distills its essence into every drop of rain. Every moment instructs
and every object: for wisdom is infused into every form. It has been
poured into us as blood; it convulsed us as pain; it slid into us as
pleasure; it enveloped us in dull, melancholy days, or in days of
cheerful labor; we did not guess its essence, until after a long


[Transcriber's Note: Shakspeare is spelled as "Shakspeare" as well as
"Shakespeare" in this book. The original spellings have been retained.]

1. Great men are more distinguished by range and extent, than by
originality. If we require the originality which consists in weaving,
like a spider, their web from their own bowels; in finding clay, and
making bricks, and building the house; no great men are original. Nor
does valuable originality consist in unlikeness to other men. The hero
is in the press of knights, and the thick of events; and, seeing what
men want, and sharing their desire, he adds the needful length of
sight and of arm, to come to the desired point. The greatest genius is
the most indebted man. A poet is no rattlebrain, saying what comes
uppermost and, because he says everything, saying, at last, something
good; but a heart in unison with his time and country. There is
nothing whimsical and fantastic in his production, but sweet and sad
earnest, freighted with the weightiest convictions, and pointed with
the most determined aim which any man or class knows of in his times.

2. The Genius[526] of our life is jealous of individuals and will not
have any individual great, except through the general. There is no
choice to genius. A great man does not wake up on some fine morning,
and say, "I am full of life, I will go to sea, and find an Antarctic
continent: to-day I will square the circle: I will ransack botany, and
find a new food for man: I have a new architecture in my mind: I
foresee a new mechanic power:" no, but he finds himself in the river
of the thoughts and events, forced onward by the ideas and necessities
of his contemporaries. He stands where all the eyes of men look one
way, and their hands all point in the direction in which he should go.
The church has reared him amidst rites and pomps, and he carries out
the advice which her music gave him, and builds a cathedral needed by
her chants and processions. He finds a war raging: it educates him, by
trumpet, in barracks, and he betters the instruction. He finds two
counties groping to bring coal, or flour, or fish, from the place of
production to the place of consumption, and he hits on a railroad.
Every master has found his materials collected, and his power lay in
his sympathy with his people, and in his love of the materials he
wrought in. What an economy of power! and what a compensation for the
shortness of life! All is done to his hand. The world has brought him
thus far on his way. The human race has gone out before him, sunk the
hills, filled the hollows, and bridged the rivers. Men, nations,
poets, artisans, women, all have worked for him, and he enters into
their labors. Choose any other thing, out of the line of tendency, out
of the national feeling and history, and he would have all to do for
himself: his powers would be expended in the first preparations. Great
genial power, one would almost say, consists in not being original at
all; in being altogether receptive; in letting the world do all, and
suffering the spirit of the hour to pass unobstructed through the

3. Shakspeare's youth[527] fell in a time when the English people were
importunate for dramatic entertainments. The court took offense easily
at political allusions, and attempted to suppress them. The
Puritans,[528] a growing and energetic party and the religious among
the Anglican Church,[529] would suppress them. But the people wanted
them. Inn-yards, houses without roofs, and extemporaneous inclosures
at country fairs, were the ready theaters of strolling players. The
people had tasted this new joy; and, as we could not hope to suppress
newspapers now,--no, not by the strongest party,--neither then could
king, prelate, or puritan,--alone or united, suppress an organ, which
was ballad, epic, newspaper, caucus, lecture, Punch,[530] and library,
at the same time. Probably king, prelate, and puritan, all found their
own account in it. It had become, by all causes, a national
interest,--by no means conspicuous, so that some great scholar would
have thought of treating it in an English history,--but not a whit
less considerable, because it was cheap, and of no account, like a
baker's shop. The best proof of its vitality is the crowd of writers
which suddenly broke into this field; Kyd, Marlow, Greene,[531]
Jonson, Chapman, Dekker, Webster, Heywood, Middleton, Peele, Ford,
Massinger, Beaumont, and Fletcher.

4. The secure possession, by the stage, of the public mind, is of the
first importance to the poet who works for it. He loses no time in
idle experiments. Here is audience and expectation prepared. In the
case of Shakspeare there is much more. At the time when[532] he left
Stratford, and went up to London, a great body of stage-plays, of all
dates and writers, existed in manuscript, and were in turn produced on
the boards. Here is the Tale of Troy,[533] which the audience will
bear hearing some part of, every week; the Death of Julius Caesar,[534]
and other stories out of Plutarch,[535] which they never tire of; a
shelf full of English history, from the chronicles of Brut[536] and
Arthur,[537] down to the royal Henries,[538] which men hear eagerly;
and a string of doleful tragedies, merry Italian tales,[539] and
Spanish voyages,[540] which all the London prentices know. All the
mass has been treated, with more or less skill, by every playwright,
and the prompter has the soiled and tattered manuscripts. It is now no
longer possible to say who wrote them first. They have been the
property of the Theater so long, and so many rising geniuses have
enlarged or altered them, inserting a speech, or a whole scene, or
adding a song, that no man can any longer claim copyright in this work
of numbers. Happily, no man wishes to. They are not yet desired in
that way. We have few readers, many spectators and hearers. They had
best lie where they are.

5. Shakspeare, in common with his comrades, esteemed the mass of old
plays, waste stock, in which any experiment could be freely tried.
Had the _prestige_[541] which hedges about a modern tragedy existed,
nothing could have been done. The rude warm blood of the living
England circulated in the play, as in street-ballads, and gave body
which he wanted to his airy and majestic fancy. The poet needs a
ground in popular tradition on which he may work, and which, again,
may restrain his art within the due temperance. It holds him to the
people, supplies a foundation for his edifice; and, in furnishing so
much work done to his hand, leaves him at leisure, and in full
strength for the audacities of his imagination. In short, the poet
owes to his legend what sculpture owed to the temple. Sculpture in
Egypt, and in Greece, grew up in subordination to architecture. It was
the ornament of the temple wall: at first, a rude relief carved on
pediments, then the relief became bolder, and a head or arm was
projected from the wall, the groups being still arranged with
reference to the building, which serves also as a frame to hold the
figures; and when, at last, the greatest freedom of style and
treatment was reached, the prevailing genius of architecture still
enforced a certain calmness and continence in the statue. As soon as
the statue was begun for itself, and with no reference to the temple
or palace, the art began to decline: freak, extravagance, and
exhibition, took the place of the old temperance. This balance-wheel,
which the sculptor found in architecture, the perilous irritability of
poetic talent found in the accumulated dramatic materials to which the
people were already wonted, and which had a certain excellence which
no single genius,[542] however extraordinary, could hope to create.

6. In point of fact, it appears that Shakspeare did owe debts in all
directions, and was able to use whatever he found; and the amount of
indebtedness may be inferred from Malone's[543] laborious computations
in regard to the First, Second, and Third parts of Henry VI., in
which, "out of 6043 lines, 1771 were written by some author preceding
Shakspeare; 2373 by him, on the foundation laid by his predecessors;
and 1899 were entirely his own." And the proceeding investigation
hardly leaves a single drama of his absolute invention. Malone's
sentence is an important piece of external history. In Henry VIII, I
think I see plainly the cropping out of the original rock on which his
own finer stratum was laid. The first play was written by a superior,
thoughtful man, with a vicious ear. I can mark his lines, and know
well their cadence. See Wolsey's soliloquy,[544] and the following
scene from Cromwell,[545] where,--instead of the meter of Shakspeare,
whose secret is, that the thought constructs the tune, so that reading
for the sense will best bring out the rhythm,--here the lines are
constructed on a given tune, and the verse has even a trace of pulpit
eloquence. But the play contains, through all its length, unmistakable
traits of Shakspeare's hand, and some passages, as the account of the
coronation,[546] are like autographs. What is odd, the compliment to
Queen Elizabeth[547] is in bad rhythm.[548]

7. Shakspeare knew that tradition supplies a better fable than any
invention can. If he lost any credit of design, he augmented his
resources; and, at that day, our petulant demand for originality was
not so much pressed. There was no literature for the million. The
universal reading, the cheap press, were unknown. A great poet, who
appears in illiterate times, absorbs into his sphere all the light
which is anywhere radiating. Every intellectual jewel, every flower of
sentiment, it is his fine office to bring to his people; and he comes
to value his memory[549] equally with his invention. He is therefore
little solicitous whence his thoughts have been derived; whether
through translation, whether through tradition, whether by travel in
distant countries, whether by inspiration; from whatever source, they
are equally welcome to his uncritical audience. Nay, he borrows very
near home. Other men say wise things as well as he; only they say a
good many foolish things, and do not know when they have spoken
wisely. He knows the sparkle of the true stone, and puts it in high
place, wherever he finds it. Such is the happy position of Homer,[550]
perhaps; of Chaucer,[551] of Saadi.[552] They felt that all wit was
their wit. And they are librarians and historiographers, as well as
poets. Each romancer was heir and dispenser of all the hundred tales
of the world,--

   "Presenting Thebes'[553] and Pelops' line
    And the tale of Troy divine."

The influence of Chaucer is conspicuous in all our early literature;
and, more recently, not only Pope[554] and Dryden[555] have been
beholden to him, but, in the whole society of English writers, a large
unacknowledged debt is easily traced. One is charmed with the opulence
which feeds so many pensioners. But Chaucer is a huge borrower.[556]
Chaucer, it seems, drew continually, through Lydgat[557] and
Caxton,[558] from Guido di Colonna,[559] whose Latin romance of the
Trojan war was in turn a compilation from Dares Phrygius,[560]
Ovid,[561] and Statius.[562] Then Petrarch,[563] Boccaccio,[564] and
the Provencal poets,[565] and his benefactors: the Romaunt of the
Rose[566] is only judicious translation from William of Lorris and
John of Meung: Troilus and Creseide,[567] from Lollius of Urbino: The
Cock and the Fox,[568] from the _Lais_ of Marie: The House of
Fame,[569] from the French or Italian: and poor Gower[570] he uses as
if he were only a brick-kiln or stone-quarry, out of which to build
his house. He steals by this apology,--that what he takes has no worth
where he finds it, and the greatest where he leaves it. It has come to
be practically a sort of rule in literature, that a man, having once
shown himself capable of original writing, is entitled thenceforth to
steal from the writings of others at discretion. Thought is the
property of him who can entertain it; and of him who can adequately
place it. A certain awkwardness marks the use of borrowed thoughts;
but, as soon as we have learned what to do with them, they become our

8. Thus, all originality is relative. Every thinker is retrospective.
The learned member of the legislature, at Westminister,[571] or at
Washington, speaks and votes for thousands. Show us the constituency,
and the now invisible channels by which the senator is made aware of
their wishes, the crowd of practical and knowing men, who, by
correspondence or conversation, are feeding him with evidence,
anecdotes, and estimates, and it will bereave his fine attitude and
resistance of something of their impressiveness. As Sir Robert
Peel[572] and Mr. Webster[573] vote, so Locke[574] and Rousseau[575]
think for thousands; and so there were foundations all around
Homer,[576] Menu,[577] Saada,[578] or Milton,[579] from which they
drew; friends, lovers, books, traditions, proverbs,--all
perished,--which, if seen, would go to reduce the wonder. Did the bard
speak with authority? Did he feel himself overmatched by any
companion? The appeal is to the consciousness of the writer. Is there
at last in his breast a Delphi[580] whereof to ask concerning any
thought or thing whether it be verily so, yea or nay? and to have
answer, and rely on that? All the debts which such a man could
contract to other wit, would never disturb his consciousness of
originality: for the ministrations of books, and of other minds, are a
whiff of smoke to that most private reality with which he has

9. It is easy to see that what is best written or done by genius, in
the world, was no man's work, but came by wide social labor, when a
thousand wrought like one, sharing the same impulse. Our English
Bible[581] is a wonderful specimen of the strength and music of the
English language. But it was not made by one man, or at one time; but
centuries and churches brought it to perfection. There never was a
time when there was not some translation existing. The Liturgy,[582]
admired for its energy and pathos, is an anthology of the piety of
ages and nations, a translation of the prayers and forms of the
Catholic church,--these collected, too, in long periods, from the
prayers and meditations of every saint and sacred writer all over the
world. Grotius[583] makes the like remark in respect to the Lord's
Prayer, that the single clauses of which it is composed were already
in use, in the time of Christ, in the rabbinical forms.[584] He picked
out the grains of gold. The nervous language of the Common Law,[585]
the impressive forms of our courts, and the precision and substantial
truth of the legal distinctions, are the contribution of all the
sharp-sighted, strong-minded men who have lived in the countries where
these laws govern. The translation of Plutarch gets its excellence by
being translation on translation. There never was a time when there
was none. All the truly idiomatic and national phrases are kept, and
all others successively picked out, and thrown away. Something like
the same process had gone on, long before, with the originals of these
books. The world takes liberties with world-books. Vedas,[586] AEsop's
Fables,[587] Pilpay,[588] Arabian Nights,[589] Cid,[590] Iliad,[591]
Robin Hood,[592] Scottish Minstrelsy,[593] are not the work of single
men. In the composition of such works, the time thinks, the market
thinks, the mason, the carpenter, the merchant, the farmer, the fop,
all think for us. Every book supplies its time with one good word;
every municipal law, every trade, every folly of the day, and the
generic catholic genius who is not afraid or ashamed to owe his
originality to the originality of all, stands with the next age as the
recorder and embodiment of his own.

10. We have to thank the researches of antiquaries, and the Shakspeare
Society,[594] for ascertaining the steps of the English drama, from
the Mysteries[595] celebrated in churches and by churchmen, and the
final detachment from the church, and the completion of secular plays,
from Ferrex and Porrex,[596] and Gammer Gurton's Needle,[597] down to
the possession of the stage by the very pieces which Shakspeare
altered, remodelled, and finally made his own. Elated with success,
and piqued by the growing interest of the problem, they have left no
book-stall unsearched, no chest in a garret unopened, no file of old
yellow accounts to decompose in damp and worms, so keen was the hope
to discover whether the boy Shakspeare poached[598] or not, whether he
held horses at the theater-door, whether he kept school, and why he
left in his will only his second-best bed to Ann Hathaway, his wife.

11. There is somewhat touching in the madness with which the passing
age mischooses the object on which all candles shine, and all eyes are
turned; the care with which it registers every trifle touching Queen
Elizabeth,[599] and King James,[600] and the Essexes,[601]
Leicesters,[602] Burleighs,[603] and Buckinghams;[604] and lets pass
without a single valuable note the founder of another dynasty, which
alone will cause the Tudor dynasty[605] to be remembered,--the man who
carries the Saxon race in him by the inspiration which feeds him, and
on whose thoughts the foremost people of the world are now for some
ages to be nourished, and minds to receive this and not another bias.
A popular player,--nobody suspected he was the poet of the human race;
and the secret was kept as faithfully from poets and intellectual men,
as from courtiers and frivolous people. Bacon,[606] who took the
inventory of the human understanding for his times, never mentioned
his name. Ben Jonson,[607] though we have strained his few words of
regard and panegyric, had no suspicion of the elastic fame whose first
vibrations he was attempting. He no doubt thought the praise he has
conceded to him generous, and esteemed himself, out of all question,
the better poet of the two.

12. If it need wit to know wit, according to the proverb, Shakspeare's
time should be capable of recognizing it. Sir Henry Wotton[608] was
born four years after Shakspeare, and died twenty-three years after
him; and I find, among his correspondents and acquaintances, the
following persons:[609] Theodore Beza, Isaac Casaubon, Sir Philip
Sidney, Earl of Essex, Lord Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh, John Milton,
Sir Henry Vane, Isaac Walton, Dr. Donne, Abraham Cowley, Berlarmine,
Charles Cotton, John Pym, John Hales, Kepler, Vieta, Albericus
Gentilis, Paul Sarpi, Arminius; with all of whom exists some token of
his having communicated, without enumerating many others, whom
doubtless[610] he saw,--Shakspeare, Spenser, Jonson, Beaumont,
Massinger, two Herberts, Marlow, Chapman and the rest. Since the
constellation of great men who appeared in Greece in the time of
Pericles,[611] there was never any such society;--yet their genius
failed them to find out the best head in the universe. Our poet's mask
was impenetrable. You cannot see the mountain near. It took a century
to make it suspected; and not until two centuries had passed, after
his death, did any criticism which we think adequate begin to appear.
It was not possible to write the history of Shakspeare till now; for
he is the father of German literature: it was on the introduction of
Shakspeare into German, by Lessing,[612] and the translation of his
works by Wieland[613] and Schlegel,[614] that the rapid burst of
German literature was most intimately connected. It was not until the
nineteenth century, whose speculative genius is a sort of living
Hamlet,[615] that the tragedy of Hamlet could find such wondering
readers. Now, literature, philosophy, and thought, are Shakspearized.
His mind is the horizon beyond which, at present, we do not see. Our
ears are educated to music by his rhythm. Coleridge[616] and
Goethe[617] are the only critics who have expressed our convictions
with any adequate fidelity; but there is in all cultivated minds a
silent appreciation of his superlative power and beauty, which, like
Christianity, qualifies the period.

[Transcriber's Note: Number runs from 12 to 14. Number 13 omitted]

14. The Shakspeare Society have inquired in all directions,
advertised the missing facts, offered money for any information that
will lead to proof; and with what result? Beside some important
illustration of the history of the English stage, to which I have
adverted, they have gleaned a few facts touching the property, and
dealings in regard to property, of the poet. It appears that, from
year to year, he owned a larger share in the Blackfriars'
Theater:[618] its wardrobe and other appurtenances were his: and he
bought an estate in his native village, with his earnings, as writer
and shareholder; that he lived in the best house in Stratford;[619]
was intrusted by his neighbors with their commissions in London, as of
borrowing money, and the like; and he was a veritable farmer. About
the time when he was writing Macbeth,[620] he sues Philip Rogers, in
the borough-court of Stratford, for thirty-five shillings, ten pence,
for corn delivered to him at different times; and, in all respects,
appears as a good husband with no reputation for eccentricity or
excess. He was a good-natured sort of man, an actor and shareholder in
the theater, not in any striking manner distinguished from other
actors and managers. I admit the importance of this information. It is
well worth the pains that have been taken to procure it.

15. But whatever scraps of information concerning his condition these
researches may have rescued, they can shed no light upon that infinite
invention which is the concealed magnet of his attraction for us. We
are very clumsy writers of history. We tell the chronicle of
parentage, birth, birth-place, schooling, schoolmates, earning of
money, marriage, publication of books, celebrity, death; and when we
have come to an end of this gossip no ray of relation appears between
it and the goddess-born; and it seems as if, had we dipped at random
into the "Modern Plutarch," and read any other life there, it would
have fitted the poems as well. It is the essence of poetry to spring,
like the rainbow daughter of Wonder, from the invisible, to abolish
the past, and refuse all history. Malone, Warburton, Dyce, and
Collier,[621] have wasted their oil. The famed theaters, Covent
Garden, Drury Lane, the Park, and Tremont,[622] have vainly assisted.
Betterton, Garrick, Kemble, Kean, and Macready,[623] dedicate their
lives to this genius; him they crown, elucidate, obey, and express.
The genius knows them not. The recitation begins; one golden word
leaps out immortal from all this painted pedantry, and sweetly
torments us with invitations to its own inaccessible homes. I
remember, I went once to see the Hamlet of a famed performer,[624] the
pride of the English stage; and all I then heard, and all I now
remember, of the tragedian, was that in which the tragedian had no
part; simply, Hamlet's question to the ghost,--

                            "What may this mean,[625]
    That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel
    Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon?"

That imagination which dilates the closet he writes in to the world's
dimension, crowds it with agents in rank and order, as quickly
reduces the big reality to be the glimpses of the moon. These tricks
of his magic spoil for us the illusions of the green-room. Can any
biography shed light on the localities into which the Midsummer
Night's Dream[626] admits me? Did Shakspeare confide to any notary or
parish recorder, sacristan, or surrogate, in Stratford, the genesis of
that delicate creation? The forest of Arden,[627] the nimble air of
Scone Castle,[628] the moonlight of Portia's villa,[629] "the antres
vast[630] and desarts idle," of Othello's captivity,--where is the
third cousin, or grand-nephew, the chancellor's file of accounts, or
private letter, that has kept one word of those transcendent secrets?
In fine, in this drama, as in all great works of art,--in the
Cyclopean architecture[631] of Egypt and India; in the Phidian
sculpture;[632] the Gothic ministers;[633] the Italian painting;[634]
the Ballads of Spain and Scotland,[635]--the Genius draws up the
ladder after him, when the creative age goes up to heaven, and gives
way to a new, which sees the works, and ask in vain for a history.

16. Shakspeare is the only biographer of Shakspeare; and even he can
tell nothing, except to the Shakspeare in us; that is, to our most
apprehensive and sympathetic hour. He cannot step from off his
tripod,[636] and give us anecdotes of his inspirations. Read the antique
documents extricated, analyzed, and compared, by the assiduous Dyce and
Collier; and now read one of those skyey sentences,--aerolites,--which
seem to have fallen out of heaven, and which, not your experience, but
the man within the breast, has accepted, as words of fate; and tell me
if they match; if the former account in any manner for the latter; or,
which gives the most historical insight into the man.

17. Hence, though our external history is so meager, yet, with
Shakspeare for biographer, instead of Aubrey[637] and Rowe,[638] we
have really the information which is material, that which describes
character and fortune, that which, if we were about to meet the man
and deal with him, would most import us to know. We have his recorded
convictions on those questions which knock for answer at every
heart,--on life and death, on love, on wealth and poverty, on the
prizes of life, and the ways whereby we come at them; on the
characters of men, and the influences, occult and open, which affect
their fortunes; and on those mysterious and demoniacal powers which
defy our science, and which yet interweave their malice and their gift
in our brightest hours. Who ever read the volume of the Sonnets,
without finding that the poet had there revealed, under masks that are
no masks to the intelligent, the lore of friendship and of love; the
confusion of sentiments in the most susceptible, and, at the same
time, the most intellectual of men? What trait of his private mind has
he hidden in his dramas? One can discern, in his ample pictures of the
gentleman and the king, what forms and humanities pleased him; his
delight in troops of friends, in large hospitality, in cheerful
giving. Let Timon,[639] let Warwick,[640] let Antonio[641] the
merchant, answer for his great heart. So far from Shakspeare's being
the least known, he is the one person, in all modern history, known to
us. What point of morals, of manners, of economy, of philosophy, of
religion, of taste, of the conduct of life, has he not settled? What
mystery has he not signified his knowledge of? What office, or
function, or district of man's work, has he not remembered? What king
has he not taught state, as Talma[642] taught Napoleon? What maiden
has not found him finer than her delicacy? What lover has he not
out-loved? What sage has he not outseen? What gentleman has he not
instructed in the rudeness of his behavior?

18. Some able and appreciating critics think no criticism on
Shakspeare valuable, that does not rest purely on the dramatic merit;
that he is falsely judged as poet and philosopher. I think as highly
as these critics of his dramatic merit, who still think it secondary.
He was a full man, who liked to talk; a brain exhaling thoughts and
images, which, seeking vent, found the drama next at hand. Had he been
less, we should have had to consider how well he filled his place, how
good a dramatist he was,--and he is the best in the world. But it
turns out, that what he has to say is of that weight, as to withdraw
some attention from the vehicle; and he is like some saint whose
history is to be rendered into all languages, into verse and prose,
into songs and pictures, and cut up into proverbs; so that the
occasion which gave the saint's meaning the form of a conversation, or
of a prayer, or of a code of laws, is immaterial, compared with the
universality of its application. So it fares with the wise Shakspeare
and his book of life. He wrote the airs for all our modern music: he
wrote the text of modern life; the text of manners: he drew the man of
England and Europe; the father of the man in America: he drew the man,
and described the day, and what is done in it: he read the hearts of
men and women, their probity, and their second thought, and wiles; the
wiles of innocence, and the transitions by which virtues and vices
slide into their contraries: he could divide the mother's part from
the father's part in the face of the child, or draw the fine
demarcations of freedom and of fate: he knew the laws of repression
which make the police of nature: and all the sweets and all the
terrors of human lot lay in his mind as truly but as softly as the
landscape lies on the eye. And the importance of this wisdom of life
sinks the form, as of Drama or Epic, out of notice. 'Tis like making a
question concerning the paper on which a king's message is written.

19. Shakspeare is as much out of the category of eminent authors, as
he is out of the crowd. He is inconceivably wise; the others,
conceivably. A good reader can, in a sort, nestle into Plato's brain,
and think from thence; but not into Shakspeare's. We are still out of
doors. For executive faculty, for creation, Shakspeare is unique. No
man can imagine it better. He was the farthest reach of subtlety
compatible with an individual self,--the subtilest of authors, and
only just within the possibility of authorship. With this wisdom of
life, is the equal endowment of imaginative and of lyric power. He
clothed the creatures of his legend with form and sentiments, as if
they were people who had lived under his roof; and few real men have
left such distinct characters as these fictions. And they spoke in
language as sweet as it was fit. Yet his talents never seduced him
into an ostentation, nor did he harp on one string. An omnipresent
humanity[643] cooerdinates all his faculties. Give a man of talents a
story to tell, and his partiality will presently appear. He has
certain observations, opinions, topics, which have some accidental
prominence, and which he disposes all to exhibit. He crams this part,
and starves that other part, consulting not the fitness of the thing,
but his fitness and strength. But Shakspeare has no peculiarity, no
importunate topic; but all is duly given; no veins, no curiosities: no
cow-painter, no bird-fancier, no mannerist is he: he has no
discoverable egotism: the great he tells greatly; the small,
subordinately. He is wise without emphasis or assertion; he is strong,
as nature is strong, who lifts the land into mountain slopes without
effort, and by the same rule as she floats a bubble in the air, and
likes as well to do the one as the other. This makes that equality of
power in farce, tragedy, narrative, and love-songs; a merit so
incessant, that each reader is incredulous of the perception of other

20. This power of expression, or of transferring the inmost truth of
things into music and verse, makes him the type of the poet, and has
added a new problem to metaphysics. This is that which throws him into
natural history, as a main production of the globe, and as announcing
new eras and ameliorations. Things were mirrored in his poetry without
loss or blur; he could paint the fine with precision, the great with
compass: the tragic and the comic indifferently, and without any
distortion or favor. He carried his powerful execution into minute
details, to a hair point; finishes an eyelash or a dimple as firmly as
he draws a mountain; and yet these, like nature's, will bear the
scrutiny of the solar microscope.

21. In short, he is the chief example to prove that more or less of
production, more or fewer pictures, is a thing indifferent. He had the
power to make one picture. Daguerre[644] learned how to let one flower
etch its image on his plate of iodine; and then proceeds at leisure to
etch a million. There are always objects; but there was never
representation. Here is perfect representation, at last; and now let
the world of figures sit for their portraits. No recipe can be given
for the making of a Shakspeare; but the possibility of the translation
of things into song is demonstrated.

22. His lyric power lies in the genius of the piece. The sonnets,
though their excellence is lost in the splendor of the dramas, are as
inimitable as they: and it is not a merit of lines, but a total merit
of the piece; like the tone of voice of some incomparable person, so
is this a speech of poetic beings, and any clause as unproducible now
as a whole poem.

23. Though the speeches in the plays, and single lines, have a beauty
which tempts the ear to pause on them for their euphuism,[645] yet the
sentence is so loaded with meaning, and so linked with its foregoers
and followers, that the logician is satisfied. His means are as
admirable as his ends; every subordinate invention, by which he helps
himself to connect some irreconcilable opposites, is a poem too. He is
not reduced to dismount and walk, because his horses are running off
with him in some distant direction; he always rides.

24. The finest poetry was first experienced: but the thought has
suffered a transformation since it was an experience. Cultivated men
often attain a good degree of skill in writing verses; but it is easy
to read, through their poems, their personal history: any one
acquainted with parties can name every figure: this is Andrew, and
that is Rachael. The sense thus remains prosaic. It is a caterpillar
with wings, and not yet a butterfly. In the poet's mind, the fact has
gone quite over into the new element of thought, and has lost all that
is exuvial. This generosity bides with Shakspeare. We say, from the
truth and closeness of his pictures, that he knows the lesson by
heart. Yet there is not a trace of egotism.

25. One more royal trait properly belongs to the poet. I mean his
cheerfulness, without which no man can be a poet,--for beauty is his
aim. He loves virtue, not for its obligation, but for its grace: he
delights in the world, in man, in woman, for the lovely light that
sparkles from them. Beauty, the spirit of joy and hilarity, he sheds
over the universe. Epicurus[646] relates, that poetry hath such charms
that a lover might forsake his mistress to partake of them. And the
true bards have been noted for their firm and cheerful temper. Homer
lies in sunshine; Chaucer is glad and erect; and Saadi says, "It was
rumored abroad that I was penitent; but what had I to do with
repentance?" Not less sovereign and cheerful,--much more sovereign and
cheerful, is the tone of Shakspeare. His name suggests joy and
emancipation to the heart of men. If he should appear in any company
of human souls, who would not march in his troop? He touches nothing
that does not borrow health and longevity from his festal style.

26. And now, how stands the account of man with this bard and
benefactor, when in solitude, shutting our ears to the reverberations
of his fame, we seek to strike the balance? Solitude has austere
lessons; it can teach us to spare both heroes and poets; and it weighs
Shakspeare also, and finds him to share the halfness and imperfection
of humanity.

27. Shakspeare, Homer, Dante,[647] Chaucer, saw the splendor of
meaning that plays over the visible world; knew that a tree had
another use than for apples, and corn another than for meal, and the
ball of the earth, than for tillage and roads: that these things bore
a second and finer harvest to the mind, being emblems of its
thoughts, and conveying in all their natural history a certain mute
commentary on human life. Shakspeare employed them as colors to
compose his picture. He rested in their beauty; and never took the
step which seemed inevitable to such genius, namely, to explore the
virtue which resides in these symbols, and imparts this power,--what
is that which they themselves say? He converted the elements, which
waited on his command, into entertainments. He was master of the
revels[648] to mankind. Is it not as if one should have, through
majestic powers of science, the comets given into his hand, or the
planets and their moons, and should draw them from their orbits to
glare with the municipal fireworks on a holiday night, and advertise
in all towns, "very superior pyrotechny this evening!" Are the agents
of nature, and the power to understand them, worth no more than a
street serenade, or the breath of a cigar? One remembers again the
trumpet-text in the Koran,[649]--"The heavens and the earth, and all
that is between them, think ye we have created them in jest?" As long
as the question is of talent and mental power, the world of men has
not his equal to show. But when the question is to life, and its
materials, and its auxiliaries, how does he profit me? What does it
signify? It is but a Twelfth Night,[650] or Midsummer Night's Dream,
or a Winter Evening's Tale: what signifies another picture more or
less? The Egyptian verdict[651] of the Shakspeare Societies comes to
mind, that he was a jovial actor and manager. I cannot marry this
fact to his verse. Other admirable men have led lives in some sort of
keeping with their thought; but this man, in wide contrast. Had he
been less, had he reached only the common measure of great authors, of
Bacon, Milton, Tasso,[652] Cervantes,[653] we might leave the fact in
the twilight of human fate: but, that this man of men, he who gave to
the science of mind a new and larger subject than had ever existed,
and planted the standard of humanity some furlongs forward into
Chaos,--that he should not be wise for himself,--it must even go into
the world's history, that the best poet led an obscure and profane
life, using his genius for the public amusement.

28. Well, other men, priest and prophet, Israelite,[654] German,[655]
and Swede,[656] beheld the same objects: they also saw through them
that which was contained. And to what purpose? The beauty straightway
vanished; they read commandments, all-excluding mountainous duty; an
obligation, a sadness, as of piled mountains, fell on them, and life
became ghastly, joyless, a pilgrim's progress,[657] a probation,
beleaguered round with doleful histories, of Adam's fall[658] and
curse, behind us; with doomsdays and purgatorial[659] and penal fires
before us; and the heart of the seer and the heart of the listener
sank in them.

29. It must be conceded that these are half-views of half-men. The
world still wants its poet-priest, a reconciler, who shall not trifle
with Shakspeare the player, nor shall grope in graves with Swedenborg
the mourner; but who shall see, speak, and act, with equal
inspiration. For knowledge will brighten the sunshine; right is more
beautiful than private affection; and love is compatible with
universal wisdom.


What right have I to write on Prudence, whereof I have little, and
that of the negative sort? My prudence consists in avoiding and going
without, not in the inventing of means and methods, not in adroit
steering, not in gentle repairing. I have no skill to make money spend
well, no genius in my economy, and whoever sees my garden discovers
that I must have some other garden. Yet I love facts, and hate
lubricity[661] and people without perception. Then I have the same
title to write on prudence that I have to write on poetry or holiness.
We write from aspiration and antagonism, as well as from experience.
We paint those qualities which we do not possess. The poet admires the
man of energy and tactics; the merchant breeds his son for the church
or the bar; and where a man is not vain and egotistic you shall find
what he has not by his praise. Moreover it would be hardly honest in
me not to balance these fine lyric words of Love and Friendship[662]
with words of coarser sound, and whilst my debt to my senses is real
and constant, not to own it in passing.

Prudence is the virtue of the senses. It is the science of
appearances. It is the outmost action of the inward life. It is God
taking thought for oxen. It moves matter after the laws of matter. It
is content to seek health of body by complying with physical
conditions, and health of mind by the laws of the intellect.

The world of the senses is a world of shows; it does not exist for
itself, but has a symbolic character; and a true prudence or law of
shows recognizes the co-presence of other laws and knows that its own
office is subaltern; knows that it is surface and not centre where it
works. Prudence is false when detached. It is legitimate when it is
the Natural History of the soul incarnate, when it unfolds the beauty
of laws within the narrow scope of the senses.

There are all degrees of proficiency in knowledge of the world. It is
sufficient to our present purpose to indicate three. One class lives
to the utility of the symbol, esteeming health and wealth a final
good. Another class live above this mark of the beauty of the symbol,
as the poet and artist and the naturalist and man of science. A third
class live above the beauty of the symbol to the beauty of the thing
signified; these are wise men. The first class have common sense; the
second, taste; and the third, spiritual perception. Once in a long
time, a man traverses the whole scale, and sees and enjoys the symbol
solidly, then also has a clear eye for its beauty, and lastly, whilst
he pitches his tent on this sacred volcanic isle of nature, does not
offer to build houses and barns thereon reverencing the splendor of
the God which he sees bursting through each chink and cranny.

The world is filled with the proverbs[663] and acts and winkings of a
base prudence, which is a devotion to matter, as if we possessed no
other faculties than the palate, the nose, the touch, the eye and ear;
a prudence which adores the Rule of Three, which never subscribes,
which gives never, which seldom lends, and asks but one question of
any project,--Will it bake bread? This is a disease like a thickening
of the skin until the vital organs are destroyed. But culture,
revealing the high origin of the apparent world and aiming at the
perfection of the man as the end, degrades everything else, as health
and bodily life, into means. It sees prudence not to be a several
faculty, but a name for wisdom and virtue conversing with the body and
its wants. Cultivated men always feel and speak so as if a great
fortune, the achievement of a civil or social measure, great personal
influence, a graceful and commanding address, had their value as
proofs of the energy of the spirit. If a man lose his balance and
immerse himself in any trades or pleasures for their own sake, he may
be a good wheel or pin,[664] but he is not a cultivated man.

The spurious prudence, making the senses final, is the god of sots and
cowards, and is the subject of all comedy. It is nature's joke, and
therefore literature's. The true prudence limits this sensualism by
admitting the knowledge of an internal and real world. This
recognition once made,--the order of the world and the distribution
of affairs and times being studied with the co-perception of their
subordinate place, will reward any degree of attention. For, our
existence, thus apparently attached in nature to the sun and the
returning moon and the periods which they mark; so susceptible to
climate and to country, so alive to social good and evil, so fond of
splendor and so tender to hunger and cold and debt,--reads all its
primary lessons out of these books.

Prudence does not go behind nature and ask whence it is? It takes the
laws of the world whereby man's being is conditioned, as they are, and
keeps these laws that it may enjoy their proper good. It respects
space and time, climate, want, sleep, the law of polarity,[665] growth
and death. There revolve, to give bound and period to his being on all
sides, the sun and moon, the great formalists in the sky: here lies
stubborn matter, and will not swerve from its chemical routine. Here
is a planted globe, pierced and belted with natural laws and fenced
and distributed externally with civil partitions and properties which
impose new restraints on the young inhabitant.

We eat of the bread which grows in the field. We live by the air which
blows around us and we are poisoned by the air that is too cold or too
hot, too dry or too wet. Time, which shows so vacant, indivisible and
divine in its coming, is slit and peddled into trifles and tatters. A
door is to be painted, a lock to be repaired. I want wood or oil, or
meal, or salt; the house smokes, or I have a headache; then the tax;
and an affair to be transacted with a man without heart or brains, and
the stinging recollection of an injurious or very awkward word,--these
eat up the hours. Do what we can, summer will have its flies.[666] If
we walk in the woods we must feed mosquitoes. If we go a-fishing we
must expect a wet coat. Then climate is a great impediment to idle
persons. We often resolve to give up the care of the weather, but
still we regard the clouds and the rain.

We are instructed by these petty experiences which usurp the hours and
years. The hard soil and four months of snow make the inhabitant of the
northern temperate zone wiser and abler than his fellow who enjoys the
fixed smile of the tropics. The islander may ramble all day at will. At
night he may sleep on a mat under the moon, and wherever a wild
date-tree grows, nature has, without a prayer even, spread a table for
his morning meal. The northerner is perforce a householder. He must
brew, bake, salt and preserve his food. He must pile wood and coal. But
as it happens that not one stroke can labor lay to without some new
acquaintance with nature; and as nature is inexhaustibly significant,
the inhabitants of these climates[667] have always excelled the
southerner in force. Such is the value of these matters that a man who
knows other things can never know too much of these. Let him have
accurate perceptions. Let him, if he have hands, handle; if eyes,
measure and discriminate; let him accept and hive every fact of
chemistry, natural history and economics; the more he has, the less is
he willing to spare any one. Time is always bringing the occasions that
disclose their value. Some wisdom comes out of every natural and
innocent action. The domestic man, who loves no music so well as his
kitchen clock and the airs which the logs sing to him as they burn on
the hearth, has solaces which others never dream of. The application of
means to ends ensures victory and the songs of victory not less in a
farm or a shop than in the tactics of party or of war. The good husband
finds method as efficient in the packing of fire-wood in a shed or in
the harvesting of fruits in the cellar, as in Peninsular campaigns[668]
or the files of the Department of State. In the rainy day he builds a
work-bench, or gets his tool-box set in the corner of the barn-chamber,
and stored with nails, gimlet, pincers, screwdriver and chisel. Herein
he tastes an old joy of youth and childhood, the cat-like love of
garrets, presses and corn-chambers, and of the conveniences of long
housekeeping. His garden or his poultry-yard--very paltry places it may
be--tells him many pleasant anecdotes. One might find argument for
optimism in the abundant flow of this saccharine element of pleasure in
every suburb and extremity of the good world. Let a man keep the
law--any law,--and his way will be strown with satisfactions. There is
more difference in the quality of our pleasures than in the amount.

On the other hand, nature punishes any neglect of prudence. If you
think the senses final, obey their law. If you believe in the soul, do
not clutch at sensual sweetness before it is ripe on the slow tree of
cause and effect. It is vinegar to the eyes to deal with men of loose
and imperfect perception. Dr. Johnson is reported to have
said,[669]--"If the child says he looked out of this window, when he
looked out of that,--whip him." Our American character is marked by a
more than average delight in accurate perception, which is shown by
the currency of the by-word, "No mistake."

But the discomfort of unpunctuality, of confusion of thought about
facts, inattention to the wants of to-morrow, is of no nation. The
beautiful laws of time and space, once dislocated by our inaptitude,
are holes and dens. If the hive be disturbed by rash and stupid hands,
instead of honey it will yield us bees. Our words and actions to be
fair must be timely. A gay and pleasant sound is the whetting of the
scythe in the mornings of June; yet what is more lonesome and sad than
the sound of a whetstone or mower's rifle[670] when it is too late in
the season to make hay? Scatter brained and "afternoon men" spoil much
more than their own affairs in spoiling the temper of those who deal
with them. I have seen a criticism on some paintings, of which I am
reminded when I see the shiftless and unhappy men who are not true to
their senses. The last Grand Duke of Weimar,[671] a man of superior
understanding, said: "I have sometimes remarked in the presence of
great works of art, and just now especially in Dresden, how much a
certain property contributes to the effect which gives life to the
figures, and to the life an irresistible truth. This property is the
hitting, in all the figures we draw, the right centre of gravity. I
mean the placing the figures firm upon their feet, making the hands
grasp, and fastening the eyes on the spot where they should look. Even
lifeless figures, as vessels and stools--let them be drawn ever so
correctly--lose all effect so soon as they lack the resting upon their
centre of gravity, and have a certain swimming and oscillating
appearance. The Raphael in the Dresden gallery[672] (the only great
affecting picture which I have seen) is the quietest and most
passionless piece you can imagine; a couple of saints who worship the
Virgin and child. Nevertheless it awakens a deeper impression than the
contortions of ten crucified martyrs. For, beside all the resistless
beauty of form, it possesses in the highest degree the property of the
perpendicularity of all the figures." This perpendicularity we demand
of all the figures in this picture of life. Let them stand on their
feet, and not float and swing. Let us know where to find them. Let
them discriminate between what they remember and what they dreamed.
Let them call a spade a spade.[673] Let them give us facts, and honor
their own senses with trust.

But what man shall dare task another with imprudence? Who is prudent?
The men we call greatest are least in this kingdom. There is a certain
fatal dislocation in our relation to nature, distorting all our modes
of living and making every law our enemy, which seems at last to have
aroused all the wit and virtue in the world to ponder the question of
Reform. We must call the highest prudence to counsel, and ask why
health and beauty and genius should now be the exception rather than
the rule of human nature? We do not know the properties of plants and
animals and the laws of nature, through our sympathy with the same;
but this remains the dream of poets. Poetry and prudence should be
coincident. Poets should be lawgivers; that is, the boldest lyric
inspiration should not chide and insult, but should announce and lead
the civil code and the day's work. But now the two things seem
irreconcilably parted. We have violated law upon law until we stand
amidst ruins, and when by chance we espy a coincidence between reason
and the phenomena, we are surprised. Beauty should be the dowry of
every man and woman, as invariably as sensation; but it is rare.
Health or sound organization should be universal. Genius should be the
child of genius, and every child should be inspired; but now it is not
to be predicted of any child, and nowhere is it pure. We call partial
half lights, by courtesy, genius; talent which converts itself to
money; talent which glitters to-day that it may dine and sleep well
to-morrow; and society is officered by _men of parts_,[674] as they
are properly called, and not by divine men. These use their gifts to
refine luxury, not to abolish it. Genius is always ascetic; and piety,
and love. Appetite shows to the finer souls as a disease, and they
find beauty in rites and bounds that resist it.

We have found out[675] fine names to cover our sensuality withal, but
no gifts can raise intemperance. The man of talent affects to call his
transgressions of the laws of the senses trivial and to count them
nothing considered with his devotion to his art. His art rebukes him.
That never taught him lewdness, nor the love of wine, nor the wish to
reap where he had not sowed. His art is less for every deduction from
his holiness, and less for every defect of common sense. On him who
scorned the world, as he said, the scorned world wreaks its revenge.
He that despiseth small things will perish by little and little.
Goethe's Tasso[676] is very likely to be a pretty fair historical
portrait, and that is true tragedy. It does not seem to me so genuine
grief when some tyrannous Richard III.[677] oppresses and slays a
score of innocent persons, as when Antonio and Tasso, both apparently
right, wrong each other. One living after the maxims of this world and
consistent and true to them, the other fired with all divine
sentiments, yet grasping also at the pleasures of sense, without
submitting to their law. That is a grief we all feel, a knot we cannot
untie. Tasso's is no infrequent case in modern biography. A man of
genius, of an ardent temperament, reckless of physical laws,
self-indulgent, becomes presently unfortunate, querulous, a
"discomfortable cousin," a thorn to himself and to others.

The scholar shames us by his bifold[678] life. Whilst something higher
than prudence is active, he is admirable; when common sense is wanted,
he is an encumbrance. Yesterday, Caesar[679] was not so great; to-day,
Job[680] not so miserable. Yesterday, radiant with the light of an
ideal world in which he lives, the first of men, and now oppressed by
wants and by sickness, for which he must thank himself, none is so
poor to do him reverence. He resembles the opium eaters whom
travellers describe as frequenting the bazaars of Constantinople, who
skulk about all day, the most pitiful drivellers, yellow, emaciated,
ragged, sneaking; then at evening, when the bazaars are open, they
slink to the opium-shop, swallow their morsel and become tranquil,
glorious and great. And who has not seen the tragedy of imprudent
genius struggling for years with paltry pecuniary difficulties, at
last sinking, chilled, exhausted and fruitless, like a giant
slaughtered by pins?

Is it not better that a man should accept the first pains and
mortifications of this sort, which nature is not slack in sending him,
as hints that he must expect no other good than the just fruit of his
own labor and self-denial? Health, bread, climate, social position,
have their importance, and he will give them their due. Let him esteem
Nature a perpetual counsellor, and her perfections the exact measure
of our deviations. Let him make the night night, and the day day. Let
him control the habit of expense. Let him see that as much wisdom may
be expended on a private economy as on an empire, and as much wisdom
may be drawn from it. The laws of the world are written out for him on
every piece of money in his hand. There is nothing he will not be the
better for knowing, were it only the wisdom of Poor Richard,[681] or
the State-street[682] prudence of buying by the acre to sell by the
foot; or the thrift of the agriculturist, to stick[683] in a tree
between whiles, because it will grow whilst he sleeps; or the prudence
which consists in husbanding little strokes of the tool, little
portions of time, particles of stock and small gains. The eye of
prudence may never shut. Iron, if kept at the ironmonger's, will rust;
beer, if not brewed in the right state of the atmosphere, will sour;
timber of ships will rot at sea, or if laid up high and dry, will
strain, warp and dry-rot. Money, if kept by us, yields no rent and is
liable to loss; if invested, is liable to depreciation of the
particular kind of stock. Strike, says the smith, the iron is white.
Keep the rake, says the haymaker, as nigh the scythe as you can, and
the cart as nigh the rake. Our Yankee trade is reputed to be very much
on the extreme of this prudence. It saves itself by its activity. It
takes bank notes,--good, bad, clean, ragged, and saves itself by the
speed with which it passes them off. Iron cannot rust, nor beer sour,
nor timber rot, nor calicoes go out of fashion, nor money stocks
depreciate, in the few swift moments in which the Yankee suffers any
one of them to remain in his possession. In skating over thin ice our
safety is in our speed.

Let him learn a prudence of a higher strain. Let him learn that
everything in nature, even motes and feathers, go by law and not by
luck, and that what he sows he reaps. By diligence and self-command
let him put the bread he eats at his own disposal, and not at that of
others, that he may not stand in bitter and false relations to other
men; for the best good of wealth is freedom. Let him practise the
minor virtues.[684] How much of human life is lost in waiting! Let him
not make his fellow creatures wait. How many words and promises are
promises of conversation! Let his be words of fate. When he sees a
folded and sealed scrap of paper float around the globe in a pine ship
and come safe to the eye for which it was written, amidst a swarming
population, let him likewise feel the admonition to integrate his
being across all these distracting forces, and keep a slender human
word among the storms, distances and accidents that drive us hither
and thither, and, by persistency, make the paltry force of one man
reappear to redeem its pledge after months and years in the most
distant climates.

We must not try to write the laws of any one virtue, looking at that
only. Human nature loves no contradictions, but is symmetrical. The
prudence which secures an outward well-being is not to be studied by
one set of men, whilst heroism and holiness are studied by another,
but they are reconcilable. Prudence concerns the present time,
persons, property and existing forms. But as every fact hath its roots
in the soul, and, if the soul were changed, would cease to be, or
would become some other thing, therefore the proper administration of
outward things will always rest on a just apprehension of their cause
and origin; that is, the good man will be the wise man, and the
single-hearted the politic man. Every violation of truth is not only a
sort of suicide in the liar, but is a stab at the health of human
society. On the most profitable lie the course of events presently
lays a destructive tax; whilst frankness proves to be the best
tactics, for it invites frankness, puts the parties on a convenient
footing and makes their business a friendship. Trust men and they will
be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves
great, though they make an exception in your favor to all their rules
of trade.

So, in regard to disagreeable and formidable things, prudence does not
consist in evasion or in flight, but in courage. He who wishes to walk
in the most peaceful parts of life with any serenity must screw
himself up to resolution. Let him front the object of his worst
apprehension, and his stoutness will commonly make his fears
groundless. The Latin proverb says,[685] "in battles the eye is first
overcome." The eye is daunted and greatly exaggerates the perils of
the hour. Entire self-possession may make a battle very little more
dangerous to life than a match at foils or at football. Examples are
cited by soldiers of men who have seen the cannon pointed and the fire
given to it, and who have stepped aside from the path of the ball. The
terrors of the storm are chiefly confined to the parlor and the cabin.
The drover, the sailor, buffets it all day, and his health renews
itself at as vigorous a pulse under the sleet as under the sun of

In the occurrence of unpleasant things among neighbors, fear comes
readily to heart and magnifies the consequence of the other party; but
it is a bad counsellor. Every man is actually weak and apparently
strong. To himself he seems weak; to others formidable. You are afraid
of Grim; but Grim also is afraid of you. You are solicitous of the
good will of the meanest person, uneasy at his ill will. But the
sturdiest offender of your peace and of the neighborhood, if you rip
up _his_ claims, is as thin and timid as any; and the peace of society
is often kept, because, as children say, one is afraid and the other
dares not. Far off, men swell, bully and threaten: bring them hand to
hand, and they are a feeble folk.

It is a proverb that "courtesy costs nothing"; but calculation might
come to value love for its profit. Love is fabled to be blind, but
kindness is necessary to perception; love is not a hood, but an
eye-water. If you meet a sectary or a hostile partisan, never
recognize the dividing lines, but meet on what common ground
remains,--if only that the sun shines and the rain rains for
both,--the area will widen very fast, and ere you know it, the
boundary mountains on which the eye had fastened have melted into air.
If he set out to contend,[686] almost St. Paul will lie, almost St.
John will hate. What low, poor, paltry, hypocritical people an
argument on religion will make of the pure and chosen souls. Shuffle
they will and crow, crook and hide, feign to confess here, only that
they may brag and conquer there, and not a thought has enriched either
party, and not an emotion of bravery, modesty, or hope. So neither
should you put yourself in a false position to your contemporaries by
indulging a vein of hostility and bitterness. Though your views are in
straight antagonism[687] to theirs, assume an identity of sentiment,
assume that you are saying precisely that which all think, and in the
flow of wit and love roll out your paradoxes in solid column, with not
the infirmity of a doubt. So at least shall you get an adequate
deliverance. The natural emotions of the soul are so much better than
the voluntary ones that you will never do yourself justice in dispute.
The thought is not then taken hold of by the right handle, does not
show itself proportioned and in its true bearings, but bears extorted,
hoarse, and half witness. But assume a consent and it shall presently
be granted, since really and underneath their all external
diversities, all men are of one heart and mind.

Wisdom will never let us stand with any man or men on an unfriendly
footing. We refuse sympathy and intimacy with people, as if we waited
for some better sympathy and intimacy to come. But whence and when?
To-morrow will be like to-day. Life wastes itself whilst we are
preparing to live. Our friends and fellow-workers die off from us.
Scarcely can we say we see new men, new women, approaching us. We are
too old to regard fashion, too old to expect patronage of any greater
or more powerful. Let us suck the sweetness of those affections and
consuetudes[688] that grow near us. These old shoes are easy to the
feet. Undoubtedly we can easily pick faults in our company, can easily
whisper names prouder and that tickle the fancy more. Every man's
imagination hath its friends; and pleasant would life be with such
companions. But if you cannot have them on good mutual terms, you
cannot have them. If not the Deity but our ambition hews and shapes
the new relations, their virtue escapes, as strawberries lose their
flavor in garden beds.

Thus truth, frankness, courage, love, humility, and all the virtues
range themselves on the side of prudence, or the art of securing a
present well-being. I do not know if all matter will be found to be
made of one element, as oxygen or hydrogen, at last, but the world of
manners and actions is wrought of one stuff, and begin where we
will[689] we are pretty sure in a short space to be mumbling our ten


The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second;
and throughout nature this primary picture is repeated without end. It
is the highest emblem in the cipher of the world. St. Augustine[691]
described the nature of God as a circle whose centre was everywhere
and its circumference nowhere. We are all our lifetime reading the
copious sense of this first of forms. One moral we have already
deduced in considering the circular or compensatory character of every
human action. Another analogy we shall now trace, that every action
admits of being outdone. Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth
that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in
nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another
dawn risen on mid-noon,[692] and under every deep a lower deep opens.

This fact, as far as it symbolizes the moral fact of the Unattainable,
the flying Perfect, around which the hands of man can never meet, at
once the inspirer and the condemner of every success, may conveniently
serve us to connect many illustrations of human power in every

There are no fixtures in nature. The universe is fluid and volatile.
Permanence is but a word of degrees. Our globe seen by God is a
transparent law, not a mass of facts. The law dissolves the fact and
holds its fluid. Our culture is the predominance of an idea which
draws after it all this train of cities and institutions. Let us rise
into another idea; they will disappear. The Greek sculpture[693] is
all melted away, as if it had been statues of ice: here and there a
solitary figure or fragment remaining, as we see flecks and scraps of
snow left in cold dells and mountain clefts in June and July. For the
genius that created it creates now somewhat else. The Greek
letters[694] last a little longer, but are already passing under the
same sentence and tumbling into the inevitable pit which the creation
of new thought opens for all that is old. The new continents are built
out of the ruins of an old planet; the new races fed out of the
decomposition of the foregoing. New arts destroy the old.[695] See the
investment of capital in aqueducts, made useless by hydraulics;
fortifications, by gunpowder; roads and canals, by railways; sails, by
steam; steam, by electricity.

You admire this tower of granite, weathering the hurts of so many
ages. Yet a little waving hand built this huge wall, and that which
builds is better than that which is built. The hand that built can
topple it down much faster. Better than the hand and nimbler was the
invisible thought which wrought through it; and thus ever, behind the
coarse effect, is a fine cause, which, being narrowly seen, is itself
the effect of a finer cause. Everything looks permanent until its
secret is known. A rich estate appears to women and children a firm
and lasting fact; to a merchant, one easily created out of any
materials, and easily lost. An orchard, good tillage, good grounds,
seem a fixture, like a gold mine, or a river, to a citizen; but to a
large farmer, not much more fixed than the state of the crop. Nature
looks provokingly stable and secular, but it has a cause like all the
rest; and when once I comprehend that, will these fields stretch so
immovably wide, these leaves hang so individually considerable?
Permanence is a word of degrees. Every thing is medial. Moons are no
more bounds to spiritual power than bat-balls.

The key to every man is his thought. Sturdy and defying though he look,
he has a helm which he obeys, which is the idea after which all his
facts are classified. He can only be reformed by showing him a new idea
which commands his own. The life of man is a self-evolving circle,[696]
which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to
new and larger circles, and that without end. The extent to which this
generation of circles, wheel without wheel, will go, depends on the
force or truth of the individual soul. For it is the inert effort of
each thought, having formed itself into a circular wave of circumstance,
as for instance an empire, rules of an art, a local usage, a religious
rite, to heap itself on that ridge and to solidify and hem in the life.
But if the soul is quick and strong it bursts over that boundary on all
sides and expands another orbit on the great deep, which also runs up
into a high wave, with attempt again to stop and to bind. But the heart
refuses to be imprisoned;[697] in its first and narrowest pulses it
already tends outward with a vast force and to immense and innumerable

Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series. Every general
law only a particular fact of some more general law presently to
disclose itself. There is no outside, no inclosing wall, no
circumference to us. The man finishes his story,--how good! how final!
how it puts a new face on all things! He fills the sky. Lo, on the
other side rises also a man and draws a circle around the circle we
had just pronounced the outline of the sphere. Then already is our
first speaker not man, but only a first speaker. His only redress is
forthwith to draw a circle outside of his antagonist. And so men do by
themselves. The result of to-day, which haunts the mind and cannot be
escaped will presently be abridged into a word, and the principle that
seemed to explain nature will itself be included as one example of a
bolder generalization. In the thought of to-morrow there is a power to
upheave all thy creed, all the creeds, all the literatures of the
nations, and marshal thee to a heaven which no epic dream has yet
depicted. Every man is not so much a workman in the world as he is a
suggestion of that he should be. Men walk as prophecies of the next

Step by step we scale this mysterious ladder; the steps are actions,
the new prospect is power. Every several result is threatened and
judged by that which follows. Every one seems to be contradicted by
the new; it is only limited by the new. The new statement is always
hated by the old, and, to those dwelling in the old, comes like an
abyss of scepticism. But the eye soon gets wonted to it, for the eye
and it are effects of one cause; then its innocency and benefit
appear, and presently, all its energy spent, it pales and dwindles
before the revelation of the new hour.

Fear not the new generalization. Does the fact look crass[698] and
material, threatening to degrade thy theory of spirit? Resist it not;
it goes to refine and raise thy theory of matter just as much.

There are no fixtures to men, if we appeal to consciousness. Every man
supposes himself not to be fully understood; and if there is any truth
in him, if he rests at last on the divine soul, I see not how it can
be otherwise. The last chamber, the last closet, he must feel was
never opened; there is always a residuum unknown, unanalyzable. That
is, every man believes that he has a greater possibility.

Our moods do not believe in each other. To-day I am full of thoughts
and can write what I please. I see no reason why I should not have the
same thought, the same power of expression, to-morrow. What I write,
whilst I write it, seems the most natural thing in the world: but
yesterday I saw a dreary vacuity in this direction in which now I see
so much; and a month hence, I doubt not, I shall wonder who he was
that wrote so many continuous pages. Alas for this infirm faith, this
will not strenuous, this vast ebb of a vast flow! I am God in nature;
I am a weed by the wall.

The continual effort to raise himself above himself,[699] to work a
pitch above his last height, betrays itself in a man's relations. We
thirst for approbation, yet cannot forgive the approver. The sweet of
nature is love; yet if I have a friend I am tormented by my
imperfections. The love of me accuses the other party. If he were high
enough[700] to slight me, then could I love him, and rise by my
affection to new heights. A man's growth is seen in the successive
choirs of his friends. For every friend whom he loses for truth, he
gains a better. I thought as I walked in the woods and mused on any
friends, why should I play with them this game of idolatry? I know and
see too well, when not voluntarily blind, the speedy limits of persons
called high and worthy. Rich, noble and great they are by the
liberality of our speech, but truth is sad. O blessed Spirit, whom I
forsake for these, they are not thee! Every personal consideration
that we allow costs us heavenly state. We sell the thrones of angels
for a short and turbulent pleasure.

How often must we learn this lesson? Men cease to interest us when we
find their limitations. The only sin is limitation. As soon as you
once come up with a man's limitations, it is all over with him. Has
he talents? has he enterprises? has he knowledge? It boots not.
Infinitely alluring and attractive was he to you yesterday, a great
hope, a sea to swim in; now, you have found his shores, found it a
pond, and you care not if you never see it again.

Each new step we take in thought reconciles twenty seemingly
discordant facts, as expressions of one law. Aristotle and Plato[701]
are reckoned the respective heads of two schools. A wise man will see
that Aristotle platonizes. By going one step farther back in thought,
discordant opinions are reconciled by being seen to be two extremes of
one principle, and we can never go so far back as to preclude a still
higher vision.

Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then
all things are at risk. It is as when a conflagration has broken out
in a great city, and no man knows what is safe, or where it will end.
There is not a piece of science but its flank may be turned to-morrow;
there is not any literary reputation, not the so-called eternal names
of fame, that may not be revised and condemned. The very hopes of man,
the thoughts of his heart, the religion of nations, the manners and
morals of mankind are all at the mercy of a new generalization.
Generalization is always a new influx of the divinity into the mind.
Hence the thrill that attends it.

Valor consists in the power of self-recovery, so that a man cannot
have his flank turned, cannot be out-generalled, but put him where you
will, he stands. This can only be by his preferring truth to his past
apprehension of truth, and his alert acceptance of it from whatever
quarter; the intrepid conviction that his laws, his relations to
society, his Christianity, his world, may at any time be superseded
and decease.

There are degrees in idealism. We learn first to play with it
academically, as the magnet was once a toy. Then we see in the heyday
of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and
fragments. Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see
that it must be true. It now shows itself ethical and practical. We
learn that God is; that he is in me; and that all things are shadows
of him. The idealism of Berkeley[702] is only a crude statement of the
idealism of Jesus, and that again is a crude statement of the fact
that all nature is the rapid efflux of goodness executing and
organizing itself. Much more obviously is history and the state of the
world at any one time directly dependent on the intellectual
classification then existing in the minds of men. The things which are
dear to men at this hour are so on account of the ideas which have
emerged on their mental horizon, and which cause the present order of
things, as a tree bears its apples. A new degree of culture would
instantly revolutionize the entire system of human pursuits.

Conversation is a game of circles. In conversation we pluck up the
_termini_[703] which bound the common of silence on every side. The
parties are not to be judged by the spirit they partake and even
express under this Pentecost.[704] To-morrow they will have receded
from this high-water mark. To-morrow you shall find them stooping
under the old pack-saddles. Yet let us enjoy the cloven flame whilst
it glows on our walls. When each new speaker strikes a new light,
emancipates us from the oppression of the last speaker to oppress us
with the greatness and exclusiveness of his own thought, then yields
us to another redeemer, we seem to recover our rights, to become men.
O, what truths profound and executable only in ages and orbs, are
supposed in the announcement of every truth! In common hours, society
sits cold and statuesque. We all stand waiting, empty,--knowing,
possibly, that we can be full, surrounded by mighty symbols which are
not symbols to us, but prose and trivial toys. Then cometh the god and
converts the statues into fiery men, and by a flash of his eye burns
up the veil which shrouded all things, and the meaning of the very
furniture, of cup and saucer, of chair and clock and tester, is
manifest. The facts which loomed so large in the fogs of
yesterday,--property, climate, breeding, personal beauty and the like,
have strangely changed their proportions. All that we reckoned settled
shakes and rattles; and literatures, cities, climates, religions,
leave their foundations and dance before our eyes. And yet here again
see the swift circumscription! Good as is discourse, silence is
better, and shames it. The length of the discourse indicates the
distance of thought betwixt the speaker and the hearer. If they were
at a perfect understanding in any part, no words would be necessary
thereon. If at one in all parts, no words would be suffered.

Literature is a point outside of our hodiernal[705] circle through
which a new one may be described. The use of literature is to afford
us a platform whence we may command a view of our present life, a
purchase by which we may move it. We fill ourselves with ancient
learning, install ourselves the best we can in Greek, in Punic,[706]
in Roman houses, only that we may wiselier see French, English and
American houses and modes of living. In like manner[707] we see
literature best from the midst of wild nature, or from the din of
affairs, or from a high religion. The field cannot be well seen from
within the field. The astronomer must have his diameter of the earth's
orbit as a base to find the parallax of any star.

Therefore we value the poet. All the argument and all the wisdom is
not in the encyclopaedia, or the treatise on metaphysics, or the Body
of Divinity, but in the sonnet or the play. In my daily work I incline
to repeat my old steps, and do not believe in remedial force, in the
power of change and reform. But some Petrarch[708] or Ariosto,[709]
filled with the new wine of his imagination, writes me an ode or a
brisk romance, full of daring thought and action. He smites and
arouses me with his shrill tones, breaks up my whole chain of habits,
and I open my eye on my own possibilities. He claps wings to the sides
of all the solid old lumber of the world, and I am capable once more
of choosing a straight path in theory and practice.

We have the same need to command a view of the religion of the world.
We can never see Christianity from the catechism:--from the pastures,
from a boat in the pond, from amidst the songs of wood-birds we
possibly may. Cleansed by the elemental light and wind, steeped in the
sea of beautiful forms which the field offers us, we may chance to
cast a right glance back upon biography. Christianity is rightly dear
to the best of mankind; yet was there never a young philosopher whose
breeding had fallen into the Christian church by whom that brave text
of Paul's was not specially prized, "Then shall also the Son be
subject unto Him who put all things under him, that God may be all in
all."[710] Let the claims and virtues of persons be never so great and
welcome, the instinct of man presses eagerly onward to the impersonal
and illimitable, and gladly arms itself against the dogmatism of
bigots with this generous word out of the book itself.

The natural world may be conceived of as a system of concentric
circles, and we now and then detect in nature slight dislocations
which apprize us that this surface on which we now stand is not fixed,
but sliding. These manifold tenacious qualities,[711] this chemistry
and vegetation, these metals and animals, which seem to stand there
for their own sake, are means and methods only, are words of God, and
as fugitive as other words. Has the naturalist or chemist learned his
craft, who has explored the gravity of atoms and the elective
affinities, who has not yet discerned the deeper law whereof this is
only a partial or approximate statement, namely that like draws to
like, and that the goods which belong to you gravitate to you and need
not be pursued with pains and cost? Yet is that statement approximate
also, and not final. Omnipresence is a higher fact. Not through subtle
subterranean channels need friend and fact be drawn to their
counterpart, but, rightly considered, these things proceed from the
eternal generation of the soul. Cause and effect are two sides of one

The same law of eternal procession ranges all that we call the
virtues, and extinguishes each in the light of a better. The great man
will not be prudent in the popular sense; all his prudence will be so
much deduction from his grandeur. But it behooves each to see, when he
sacrifices prudence, to what god he devotes it; if to ease and
pleasure, he had better be prudent still; if to a great trust, he can
well spare his mule and panniers who has a winged chariot instead.
Geoffrey draws on his boots to go through the woods, that his feet may
be safer from the bite of snakes; Aaron never thinks of such a peril.
In many years neither is harmed by such an accident. Yet it seems to
me that with every precaution you take against such an evil you put
yourself into the power of the evil. I suppose that the highest
prudence is the lowest prudence. Is this too sudden a rushing from
the centre to the verge of our orbit? Think how many times we shall
fall back into pitiful calculations before we take up our rest in the
great sentiment, or make the verge of to-day the new centre. Besides,
your bravest sentiment is familiar to the humblest men. The poor and
the low have their way of expressing the last facts of philosophy as
well as you. "Blessed be nothing" and "The worse things are, the
better they are" are proverbs which express the transcendentalism of
common life.

One man's justice is another's injustice; one man's beauty another's
ugliness; one man's wisdom another's folly; as one beholds the same
objects from a higher point of view. One man thinks justice consists
in paying debts, and has no measure in his abhorrence of another who
is very remiss in this duty and makes the creditor wait tediously. But
that second man has his own way of looking at things; asks himself
which debt must I pay first, the debt to the rich, or the debt to the
poor? the debt of money, or the debt of thought to mankind, of genius
to nature? For you, O broker, there is no other principle but
arithmetic. For me, commerce is of trivial import; love, faith, truth
of character, the aspiration of man, these are sacred; nor can I
detach one duty, like you, from all other duties, and concentrate my
forces mechanically on the payment of moneys. Let me live onward; you
shall find that, though slower, the progress of my character will
liquidate all these debts without injustice to higher claims. If a
man should dedicate himself to the payment of notes, would not this be
injustice? Owes he no debt but money? And are all claims on him to be
postponed to a landlord's or a banker's?

There is no virtue which is final; all are initial. The virtues of
society are vices of the saint. The terror of reform is the discovery
that we must cast away our virtues, or what we have always esteemed
such, into the same pit that has consumed our grosser vices.

    Forgive his crimes, forgive his virtues too,
    Those smaller faults, half converts to the right.[712]

It is the highest power of divine moments that they abolish our
contritions also. I accuse myself of sloth and unprofitableness day by
day; but when these waves of God flow into me I no longer reckon lost
time. I no longer poorly compute my possible achievement by what
remains to me of the month or the year; for these moments confer a
sort of omnipresence and omnipotence which asks nothing of duration,
but sees that the energy of the mind is commensurate with the work to
be done, without time.

And thus, O circular philosopher, I hear some reader exclaim, you have
arrived at a fine pyrrhonism,[713] at an equivalence and indifferency
of all actions, and would fain teach us that _if we are true_,
forsooth, our crimes may be lively stones out of which we shall
construct the temple of the true God.

I am not careful to justify myself. I own I am gladdened[714] by
seeing the predominance of the saccharine principle throughout
vegetable nature, and not less by beholding in morals that
unrestrained inundation of the principle of good into every chink and
hole that selfishness has left open, yea into selfishness and sin
itself; so that no evil is pure, nor hell itself without its extreme
satisfactions. But lest I should mislead any when I have my own head
and obey my whims, let me remind the reader that I am only an
experimenter. Do not set the least value on what I do, or the least
discredit on what I do not, as if I pretended to settle anything as
true or false. I unsettle all things. No facts are to me sacred; none
are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker with no Past at my

Yet this incessant movement and progression which all things partake
could never become sensible to us but by contrast to some principle of
fixture or stability in the soul. Whilst the eternal generation of
circles proceeds, the eternal generator abides. That central life is
somewhat superior to creation, superior to knowledge and thought, and
contains all its circles. For ever it labors to create a life and
thought as large and excellent as itself; but in vain; for that which
is made instructs how to make a better.

Thus there is no sleep, no pause, no preservation, but all things
renew, germinate and spring. Why should we import rags and relics into
the new hour? Nature abhors the old, and old age seems the only
disease: all others run into this one. We call it by many
names,--fever, intemperance, insanity, stupidity and crime: they are
all forms of old age: they are rest, conservatism, appropriation,
inertia; not newness, not the way onward. We grizzle every day. I see
no need of it. Whilst we converse with what is above us, we do not
grow old, but grow young. Infancy, youth, receptive, aspiring, with
religious eye looking upward, counts itself nothing and abandons
itself to the instruction flowing from all sides. But the man and
woman of seventy assume to know all; throw up their hope; renounce
aspiration; accept the actual for the necessary and talk down to the
young. Let them then become organs of the Holy Ghost; let them be
lovers; let them behold truth; and their eyes are uplifted, their
wrinkles smoothed, they are perfumed again with hope and power. This
old age ought not to creep on a human mind. In nature every moment is
new; the past is always swallowed and forgotten; the coming only is
sacred. Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit.
No love can be bound by oath or covenant to secure it against a higher
love. No truth so sublime but it may be trivial to-morrow in the light
of new thoughts. People wish to be settled: only as far as they are
unsettled is there any hope for them.

Life is a series of surprises. We do not guess to-day the mood, the
pleasure, the power of to-morrow, when we are building up our being.
Of lower states,--of acts of routine and sense, we can tell somewhat,
but the masterpieces of God, the total growths and universal movements
of the soul, he hideth; they are incalculable. I can know that truth
is divine and helpful; but how it shall help me I can have no guess,
for _so to be_ is the sole inlet of _so to know_. The new position of
the advancing man has all the powers of the old, yet has them all new.
It carries in its bosom all the energies of the past, yet is itself an
exhalation of the morning. I cast away in this new moment all my once
hoarded knowledge, as vacant and vain. Now for the first time seem I
to know any thing rightly. The simplest words,--we do not know what
they mean except when we love and aspire.

The difference between talents and character is adroitness to keep the
old and trodden round, and power and courage to make a new road to new
and better goals. Character makes an overpowering present, a cheerful,
determined hour, which fortifies all the company by making them see
that much is possible and excellent that was not thought of. Character
dulls the impression of particular events. When we see the conqueror
we do not think much of any one battle or success. We see that we had
exaggerated the difficulty. It was easy to him. The great man is not
convulsible or tormentable. He is so much that events pass over him
without much impression. People say sometimes, "See what I have
overcome; see how cheerful I am; see how completely I have triumphed
over these black events." Not if they still remind me of the black
event,--they have not yet conquered. Is it conquest to be a gay and
decorated sepulchre, or a half-crazed widow, hysterically laughing?
True conquest is the causing the black event to fade and disappear as
an early cloud of insignificant result in a history so large and

The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget
ourselves, to be surprised out of our propriety, to lose our
sempiternal[715] memory and to do something without knowing how or
why; in short to draw a new circle. Nothing great was ever achieved
without enthusiasm. The way of life is wonderful. It is by
abandonment. The great moments of history are the facilities of
performance through the strength of ideas, as the works of genius and
religion. "A man," said Oliver Cromwell,[716] "never rises so high as
when he knows not whither he is going." Dreams and drunkenness, the
use of opium and alcohol are the semblance and counterfeit of this
oracular genius, and hence their dangerous attraction for men. For the
like reason they ask the aid of wild passions, as in the gaming and
war, ape in some manner these flames and generosities of the heart.



[Footnote 1: Games of strength. The public games of Greece were
athletic and intellectual contests of various kinds. There were four
of importance: the Olympic, held every four years; the Pythian, held
every third Olympic year; and the Nemean and Isthmian, held alternate
years between the Olympic periods. These great national festivals
exercised a strong influence in Greece. They were a secure bond of
union between the numerous independent states and did much to help the
nation to repel its foreign invaders. In Greece the accomplished
athlete was reverenced almost as a god, and cases have been recorded
where altars were erected and sacrifices made in his honor. The
extreme care and cultivation of the body induced by this national
spirit is one of the most significant features of Greek culture, and
one which might wisely be imitated in the modern world.]

[Footnote 2: Troubadours. In southern France during the eleventh
century, wandering poets went from castle to castle reciting or
singing love-songs, composed in the old Provencal dialect, a sort of
vulgarized Latin. The life in the great feudal chateaux was so dull
that the lords and ladies seized with avidity any amusement which
promised to while away an idle hour. The troubadours were made much of
and became a strong element in the development of the Southern spirit.
So-called Courts of Love were formed where questions of an amorous
nature were discussed in all their bearings; learned opinions were
expressed on the most trivial matters, and offenses were tried.

Some of the Provencal poetry is of the highest artistic significance,
though the mass of it is worthless high-flown trash.]

[Footnote 3: At the time this oration was delivered (1837), many of
the authors who have since given America a place in the world's
literature were young men writing their first books. "We were," says
James Russell Lowell, "still socially and intellectually moored to
English thought, till Emerson cut the cable and gave us a chance at
the dangers and glories of blue water."]

[Footnote 4: Pole-star. Polaris is now the nearest conspicuous star to
the north pole of the celestial equator. Owing to the motion of the
pole of the celestial equator around that of the ecliptic, this star
will in course of time recede from its proud position, and the
brilliant star Vega in the constellation Harp will become the

[Footnote 5: It is now a well-recognized fact in the development of
animal life that as any part of the body falls into disuse it in time
disappears. Good examples of this are the disappearance of powerful
fangs from the mouth of man, the loss of power in the wings of
barnyard fowls; and, _vice versa_, as new uses for a member arise, its
structure changes to meet the new needs. An example of this is the
transformation from the hoof of a horse through the cloven hoofs of
the cow to the eventual development of highly expert fingers in the
monkey and man. Emerson assumed the doctrine of evolution to be
sufficiently established by the anatomical evidence of gradual
development. In his own words: "Man is no up-start in the creation.
His limbs are only a more exquisite organization--say rather the
finish--of the rudimental forms that have been already sweeping the
sea and creeping in the mud. The brother of his hand is even now
cleaving the arctic sea in the fin of the whale, and innumerable ages
since was pawing the marsh in the flipper of the saurian." A view
afterwards condensed into his memorable couplet:

   "Striving to be man, the worm
    Mounts through all the spires of form."

[Footnote 6: Stint. A prescribed or allotted task, a share of labor.]

[Footnote 7: Ridden. Here used in the sense of dominated.]

[Footnote 8: Monitory pictures. Instructive warning pictures.]

[Footnote 9: The Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus is the author of
this saying, not "the old oracle." It occurs in the Encheiridion, or
manual, a work put together by a pupil of Epictetus. The original
saying of Epictetus is as follows: "Every thing has two handles, the
one by which it may be borne, the other by which it may not. If your
brother acts unjustly, do not lay hold of the act by that handle
wherein he acts unjustly, for this is the handle which cannot be
borne: but lay hold of the other, that he is your brother, that he was
nurtured with you, and you will lay hold of the thing by that handle
by which it can be borne."]

[Footnote 10: Every day, the sun (shines).]

[Footnote 11: Beholden. Emerson here uses this past participle with
its original meaning instead of in its present sense of "indebted."]

[Footnote 12: Here we have a reminder of Emerson's pantheism. He means
the inexplicable continuity "of what I call God, and fools nature," as
Browning expressed it.]

[Footnote 13: His expanding knowledge will become a creator.]

[Footnote 14: Know thyself. Plutarch ascribes this saying to Plato. It
is also ascribed to Pythagoras, Chilo, Thales, Cleobulus, Bias, and
Socrates; also to Phemonie, a mythical Greek poetess of the
ante-Homeric period. Juvenal (Satire XI. 27) says that this precept
descended from heaven. "Know thyself" and "Nothing too much" were
inscribed upon the Delphic oracle.

   "Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
    The proper study of mankind is man."


[Footnote 15: Observe the brisk movement of these sentences. How they
catch and hold the attention, giving a new impulse to the reader's

[Footnote 16: Nature abhors a vacuum.]

[Footnote 17: Noxious. Harmful.]

[Footnote 18: John Locke (1632-1704), an English philosopher whose
work was of especial significance in the development of modern
philosophy. The work he is best known by is the exhaustive "Essay on
the Human Understanding," in which he combated the theory of
Descartes, that every man has certain "innate ideas." The innate-idea
theory was first proved by the philosopher Descartes in this way.
Descartes began his speculations from a standpoint of absolute doubt.
Then he said, "I think, therefore I am," and from this formula he
built up a number of ideas innate to the human mind, ideas which we
cannot but hold. Locke's "Essay on the Human Understanding" did much
to discredit Descartes' innate ideas, which had been very generally
accepted in Europe before.]

[Footnote 19: Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Viscount Saint Alban's
(1561-1626), a famous English statesman and philosopher. He occupied
high public offices, but in 1621 was convicted of taking bribes in his
office of Lord Chancellor. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to
imprisonment and a fine of forty thousand pounds. Both these sentences
were remitted, however. In the seventeenth century, judicial
corruption was so common that Bacon's offence was not considered so
gross as it would now be. As a philosopher Bacon's rank has been much
disputed. While some claim that to his improved method of studying
nature are chiefly to be attributed the prodigious strides taken by
modern science, others deny him all merit in this respect. His best
known works are: "The Novum Organum," a philosophical treatise; "The
Advancement of Learning," a remarkable argument in favor of
scholarship; and the short essays on subjects of common interest,
usually printed under the simple title "Bacon's Essays."]

[Footnote 20: Third Estate. The thirteenth century was the age when
the national assemblies of most European countries were putting on
their definite shape. In most of them the system of _estates_
prevailed. These in most countries were three--nobles, clergy, and
commons, the commons being the third estate. During the French
Revolution the Third Estate, or Tiers Etat, asserted its rights and
became a powerful factor in French politics, choosing its own leaders
and effecting the downfall of its oppressors.]

[Footnote 21: Restorers of readings. Men who spend their lives trying
to improve and correct the texts of classical authors, by comparing
the old editions with each other and picking out the version which
seem most in accordance with the authors' original work.]

[Footnote 22: Emendators. The same as restorers of readings.]

[Footnote 23: Bibliomaniacs. Men with a mania for collecting rare and
beautiful books. Not a bad sort of mania, though Emerson never had any
sympathy for it.]

[Footnote 24: To many readers Emerson's own works richly fulfill this
obligation. He himself lived continually in such a lofty mental
atmosphere that no one can come within the circle of his influence
without being stimulated and elevated.]

[Footnote 25: Genius, the possession of a thoroughly active soul,
ought not to be the special privilege of favorites of fortune, but the
right of every sound man.]

[Footnote 26: They stunt my mental growth. A man should not accept
another man's conclusions, but merely use them as steps on his upward

[Footnote 27: If you do not employ such talent as you have in original
labor, in bearing the mental fruit of which you are capable, then you
do not vindicate your claim to a share in the divine nature.]

[Footnote 28: Disservice. Injury.]

[Footnote 29: In original composition of any sort our efforts
naturally flow in the channels worn for us by the first dominating
streams of early genius. The conventional is the continual foe of all
true art.]

[Footnote 30: Emerson is continually stimulating us to look at things
in new ways. Here, for instance, at once the thought comes: "Is it not
perhaps possible that the transcendent genius of Shakespeare has been
rather noxious than beneficent in its influence on the mind of the
world? Has not the all-pervading Shakespearian influence flooded and
drowned out a great deal of original genius?"]

[Footnote 31: That is,--when in his clear, seeing moments he can
distil some drops of truth from the world about him, let him not waste
his time in studying other men's records of what they have seen.]

[Footnote 32: While Emerson's verse is frequently unmusical, in his
prose we often find passages like this instinct with the fairest

[Footnote 33: Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400). The father of English
poetry. Chaucer's chief work is the "Canterbury Tales," a series of
stories told by pilgrims traveling in company to Canterbury.
Coleridge, the poet, wrote of Chaucer: "I take unceasing delight in
Chaucer; his manly cheerfulness is especially delicious to me in my
old age. How exquisitely tender he is, yet how free from the least
touch of sickly melancholy or morbid drooping." Chaucer's poetry is
above all things fresh. It breathes of the morning of literature. Like
Homer he had at his command all the riches of a new language undefiled
by usage from which to choose.

   "Dan Chaucer, well of English undefyled,
    On Fame's eternall beadroll worthie to be fyled."


[Footnote 34: Andrew Marvell (1620-1678). An eminent English patriot
and satirist. As a writer he is chiefly known by his "Rehearsal
Transposed," written in answer to a fanatical defender of absolute
power. When a young man he was assistant to the poet Milton, who was
then Latin secretary to Oliver Cromwell. Marvell's wit and
distinguished abilities rendered him formidable to the corrupt
administration of Charles II., who attempted without success to buy
his friendship. Emerson's literary perspective is a bit unusual when
he speaks of Marvell as "one of the great English poets." Marvell
hardly ranks with Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton.]

[Footnote 35: John Dryden (1631-1700). A celebrated English poet.
Early in life he wrote almost entirely for the stage and achieved
great success. In the latter part of his life, however, according to
Macaulay, he "turned his powers in a new direction with success the
most splendid and decisive. The first rank in poetry was beyond his
reach, but he secured the most honorable place in the second.... With
him died the secret of the old poetical diction of England,--the art
of producing rich effects by familiar words."]

[Footnote 36: Plato (429-347 B.C.). One of the most illustrious
philosophers of all time. Probably no other philosopher has
contributed so much as Plato to the moral and intellectual training of
the human race. This pre-eminence is due not solely to his
transcendent intellect, but also in no small measure to his poetic
power and to that unrivaled grace of style which led the ancients to
say that if Jove should speak Greek he would speak like Plato. He was
a remarkable example of that universal culture of body and mind which
characterized the last period of ancient Greece. He was proficient in
every branch of art and learning and was such a brilliant athlete that
he contended in the Isthmian and Pythian games.]

[Footnote 37: Gowns. The black gown worn occasionally in America and
always in England at the universities; the distinctive academic dress
is a cap and gown.]

[Footnote 38: Pecuniary foundations. Gifts of money for the support of
institutions of learning.]

[Footnote 39: Wit is here used in its early sense of intellect, good

[Footnote 40: Valetudinarian. A person of a weak, sickly

[Footnote 41: Mincing. Affected.]

[Footnote 42: Preamble. A preface or introduction.]

[Footnote 43: Dumb abyss. That vast immensity of the universe about us
which we can never understand.]

[Footnote 44: I comprehend its laws; I lose my fear of it.]

[Footnote 45: Silkworms feed on mulberry-leaves. Emerson describes
what science calls "unconscious cerebration."]

[Footnote 46: Ripe fruit. Emerson's ripe fruit found its way into his
diary, where it lay until he needed it in the preparation of some
lecture or essay.]

[Footnote 47: I. Corinthians xv. 53.]

[Footnote 48: Empyrean. The region of pure light and fire; the ninth
heaven of ancient astronomy.

   "The deep-domed empyrean
    Rings to the roar of an angel onset."


[Footnote 49: Ferules. According to the methods of education fifty
years ago, it was quite customary for the teacher to punish a
school-child with his ferule or ruler.]

[Footnote 50: Oliver Wendell Holmes cites this last sentence as the
most extreme development of the distinctively Emersonian style. Such
things must be read not too literally but rapidly, with alert
attention to what the previous train of thought has been.]

[Footnote 51: Savoyards. The people of Savoy, south of Lake Geneva in

[Footnote 52: Emerson's style is characterized by the frequent use of
pithy epigrams like this.]

[Footnote 53: Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727). A great English
philosopher and mathematician. He is famous as having discovered the
law of gravitation.]

[Footnote 54: Unhandselled. Uncultivated, without natural advantages.
A handsel is a gift.]

[Footnote 55: Druids. The ancient priesthood of the Britons in Caesar's
time. They had immense power among these primitive peoples. They were
the judges as well as the priests and decided all questions. It is
believed that they made human sacrifices to their gods in the depths
of the primeval forest, but not much is known of their rites.]

[Footnote 56: Berserkers. Berserker was a redoubtable hero in
Scandinavian mythology, the grandson of the eight-handed Starkodder
and the beautiful Alfhilde. He had twelve sons who inherited the
wild-battle frenzy, or berserker rage. The sagas, the great
Scandinavian epics, are full of stories of heroes who are seized with
this fierce longing for battle, murder, and sudden death. The name
means bear-shirt and has been connected with the old _were-wolf_
tradition, the myth that certain people were able to change into
man-devouring wolves with a wolfish mad desire to rend and kill.]

[Footnote 57: Alfred, surnamed the Great (848-901), king of the West
Saxons in England. When he ascended the throne his country was in a
deplorable condition from the repeated inroads of northern invaders.
He eventually drove them out and established a secure government.
England owes much to the efforts of Alfred. He not only fought his
country's battles, but also founded schools, translated Latin books
into his native tongue, and did much for the intellectual improvement
of his people.]

[Footnote 58: The hoe and the spade. "In spite of Emerson's habit of
introducing the names of agricultural objects into his writing ('Hay,
corn, roots, hemp, flax, apples, wool, and wood' is a line from one of
his poems), his familiarity therewith is evidently not so great as he
would lead one to imagine. 'Take care, papa,' cried his little son,
seeing him at work with a spade, 'you will dig your leg.'"]

[Footnote 59: John Flamsteed (1646-1719). An eminent English
astronomer. He appears to have been the first to understand the theory
of the equation of time. He passed his life in patient observation and
determined the position of 2884 stars.]

[Footnote 60: Sir William Herschel (1738-1822). One of the greatest
astronomers that any age or nation has produced. Brought up to the
profession of music, it was not until he was thirty years old that he
turned his attention to astronomy. By rigid economy he obtained a
telescope, and in 1781 discovered the planet Uranus. This great
discovery gave him great fame and other substantial advantages. He was
made private astronomer to the king and received a pension. His
discoveries were so far in advance of his time, they had so little
relation with those of his predecessors, that he may almost be said
to have created a new science by revealing the immensity of the scale
on which the universe is constructed.]

[Footnote 61: Nebulous. In astronomy a nebula is a luminous patch in
the heavens far beyond the solar system, composed of a mass of stars
or condensed gases.]

[Footnote 62: Fetich. The word seems to have been applied by
Portuguese sailors and traders on the west coast of Africa to objects
worshiped by the natives, which were regarded as charms or talismans.
Of course the word here means an object of blind admiration and

[Footnote 63: Cry up, to praise, extol.]

[Footnote 64: Ancient and honorable. Isaiah ix. 15.]

[Footnote 65: Complement. What is needed to complete or fill up some
quantity or thing.]

[Footnote 66: Signet. Seal. Emerson is not always felicitous in his
choice of metaphors.]

[Footnote 67: Macdonald. In Cervantes' "Don Quixote," Sancho Panza,
the squire to the "knight of the metaphysical countenance," tells a
story of a gentleman who had asked a countryman to dine with him. The
farmer was pressed to take his seat at the head of the table, and when
he refused out of politeness to his host, the latter became impatient
and cried: "Sit there, clod-pate, for let me sit wherever I will, that
will still be the upper end, and the place of worship to thee." This
saying is commonly attributed to Rob Roy, but Emerson with his usual
inaccuracy in such matters places it in the mouth of Macdonald,--which
Macdonald is uncertain.]

[Footnote 68: Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778). A great Swedish botanist.
He did much to make botany the orderly science it now is.]

[Footnote 69: Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829). The most famous of English
chemists. The most important to mankind of his many discoveries was
the safety-lamp to be used in mines where there is danger of explosion
from fire-damp.]

[Footnote 70: Baron George Cuvier (1769-1832). An illustrious French
philosopher, statesman, and writer who made many discoveries in the
realm of natural history, geology and philosophy.]

[Footnote 71: The moon. The tides are caused by the attraction of the
moon and the sun. The attraction of the moon for the water nearest the
moon is somewhat greater than the attraction of the earth's center.
This causes a slight bulging of the water toward the moon and a
consequent high tide.]

[Footnote 72: Emerson frequently omits the principal verb of his
sentences as here: "In a century _there may exist_ one or two men."]

[Footnote 73: This obscurely constructed sentence means: "For their
acquiescence in a political and social inferiority the poor and low
find some compensation in the immense moral capacity thereby gained."]

[Footnote 74: "They" refers to the hero or poet mentioned some twenty
lines back.]

[Footnote 75: Comprehendeth. Here used in the original sense _to
include_. The perfect man should be so thoroughly developed at every
point that he will possess a share in the nature of every man.]

[Footnote 76: By the Classic age is generally meant the age of Greece
and Rome; and by the Romantic is meant the middle ages.]

[Footnote 77: Introversion. Introspection is the more usual word to
express the analytic self-searching so common in these days.]

[Footnote 78: Second thoughts. Emerson uses the word here in the same
sense as the French _arriere-pensee_, a mental reservation.]

[Footnote 79:

   "And thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought."
                           _Hamlet_, Act III, Sc. 1.


[Footnote 80: Movement. The French Revolution.]

[Footnote 81: Let every common object be credited with the diviner
attributes which will class it among others of the same importance.]

[Footnote 82: Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774). An eminent English poet
and writer. He is best known by the comedy "She Stoops to Conquer,"
the poem "The Deserted Village," and the "Vicar of Wakefield." "Of all
romances in miniature," says Schlegel, the great German critic, "the
'Vicar of Wakefield' is the most exquisite." It is probably the most
popular English work of fiction in Germany.]

[Footnote 83: Robert Burns (1759-1796). A celebrated Scottish poet.
The most striking characteristics of Burns' poetry are simplicity and
intensity, in which he is scarcely, if at all, inferior to any of the
greatest poets that have ever lived.]

[Footnote 84: William Cowper (1731-1800). One of the most popular of
English poets. His poem "The Task" was probably more read in his day
than any poem of equal length in the language. Cowper also made an
excellent translation of Homer.]

[Footnote 85: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). The most
illustrious name in German literature; a great poet, dramatist,
novelist, philosopher, and critic. The Germans regard Goethe with the
same veneration we accord to Shakespeare. The colossal drama "Faust"
is the most splendid product of his genius, though he wrote a large
number of other plays and poems.]

[Footnote 86: William Wordsworth (1770-1850). By many considered the
greatest of modern English poets. His descriptions of the ever-varying
moods of nature are the most exquisite in the language. Matthew Arnold
in his essay on Emerson says: "As Wordsworth's poetry is, in my
judgment, the most important work done in verse in our language during
the present century, so Emerson's 'Essays' are, I think, the most
important work done in prose."]

[Footnote 87: Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881). A famous English essayist,
historian, and speculative philosopher. It is scarcely too much to say
that no other author of this century has exerted a greater influence
not merely upon the literature but upon the mind of the English nation
than Carlyle. Emerson was an intimate friend of Carlyle, and during
the greater part of his life maintained a correspondence with the
great Englishman. An interesting description of their meeting will be
found among the "Critical Opinions" at the beginning of the work.]

[Footnote 88: Alexander Pope (1688-1744). The author of the "Essay on
Criticism," "Rape of the Lock," the "Essay on Man," and other famous
poems. Pope possessed little originality or creative imagination, but
he had a vivid sense of the beautiful and an exquisite taste. He owed
much of his popularity to the easy harmony of his verse and the
keenness of his satire.]

[Footnote 89: Samuel Johnson (1709-1784). One of the eminent writers
of the eighteenth century. He wrote "Lives of the Poets," poems, and
probably the most remarkable work of the kind ever produced by a
single person, an English dictionary.]

[Footnote 90: Edward Gibbon (1737-1794). One of the most distinguished
of English historians. His great work is the "Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire." Carlyle called Gibbon, "the splendid bridge from the
old world to the new."]

[Footnote 91: Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). A great Swedish
theologian, naturalist, and mathematician, and the founder of a
religious sect which has since his death become prominent among the
philosophical schools of Christianity.]

[Footnote 92: Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827). A Swiss teacher
and educational reformer of great influence in his time.]


[Footnote 93: These lines are printed under the title of
_Compensation_ in Emerson's collected poems. He has also another poem
of eight lines with the same title.]

[Footnote 94: Documents, data, facts.]

[Footnote 95: This doctrine, which a little observation would confute,
is still taught by some.]

[Footnote 96: Doubloons, Spanish and South American gold coins of the
value of about $15.60 each.]

[Footnote 97: Polarity, that quality or condition of a body by virtue
of which it exhibits opposite or contrasted properties in opposite or
contrasted directions.]

[Footnote 98: Systole and diastole, the contraction and dilation of
the heart and arteries.]

[Footnote 99: They are increased and consequently want more.]

[Footnote 100: Intenerate, soften.]

[Footnote 101: White House, the popular name of the presidential
mansion at Washington.]

[Footnote 102: Explain the phrase _eat dust_.]

[Footnote 103: Overlook, oversee, superintend.]

[Footnote 104: Res nolunt, etc. Translated in the previous sentence.]

[Footnote 105: The world ... dew. Explain the thought. What gives the
earth its shape?]

[Footnote 106: The microscope ... little. This statement is not in
accordance with the facts, if we are to understand _perfect_ in the
sense which the next sentence would suggest.]

[Footnote 107: Emerson has been considered a pantheist.]

[Footnote 108: _[Greek: Hoi kyboi]_, etc. The translation follows in
the text. This old proverb is quoted by Sophocles, (Fragm. LXXIV.2) in
the form:

     [Greek: Aei gar eu piptousin oi Dios kyboi],

Emerson uses it in _Nature_ in the form "Nature's dice are always

[Footnote 109: Amain, with full force, vigorously.]

[Footnote 110: The proverb is quoted by Horace, Epistles, I, X.24:

     "Naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret."

A similar thought is expressed by Juvenal, Seneca, Cicero, and

[Footnote 111: Augustine, Confessions, B. I.]

[Footnote 112: Jupiter, the supreme god of the Romans, the Zeus of the

[Footnote 113: Tying up the hands. The expression is used
figuratively, of course.]

[Footnote 114: The supreme power in England is vested in Parliament.]

[Footnote 115: Prometheus stole fire from heaven to benefit the race
of men. In punishment for this Jupiter chained him to a rock and set
an eagle to prey upon his liver. Some unknown and terrible danger
threatened Jupiter, the secret of averting which only Prometheus knew.
For this secret Jupiter offered him his freedom.]

[Footnote 116: Minerva, goddess of wisdom, who sprang full-armed from
the brain of Jupiter. The secret which she held is told in the
following lines.]

[Footnote 117: Aurora, goddess of the dawn. Enamored of Tithonus, she
persuaded Jupiter to grant him immortality, but forgot to ask for him
immortal youth. Read Tennyson's poem on _Tithonus_.]

[Footnote 118: Achilles, the hero of Homer's _Iliad_. His mother
Thetis, to render him invulnerable, plunged him into the waters of the
Styx. The heel by which she held him was not washed by the waters and
remained vulnerable. Here he received a mortal wound.]

[Footnote 119: Siegfried, hero of the Nibelungenlied, the old German
epic poem. Having slain a dragon, he bathed in its blood and became
covered with an invulnerable horny hide, only one small spot between
his shoulders which was covered by a leaf remaining vulnerable. Into
this spot the treacherous Hagen plunged his lance.]

[Footnote 120: Nemesis, a Greek female deity, goddess of retribution,
who visited the righteous anger of the gods upon mortals.]

[Footnote 121: The Furies or Eumenides, stern and inexorable ministers
of the vengeance of the gods.]

[Footnote 122: Ajax and Hector, Greek and Trojan heroes in the Trojan
War. See Homer's _Iliad_. Achilles slew Hector and, lashing him to his
chariot with the belt which Ajax had given Hector, dragged him round
the walls of Troy. Ajax committed suicide with the sword which Hector
had presented to him.]

[Footnote 123: Thasians, inhabitants of the island of Thasus. The
story here told of the rival of the athlete Theagenes is found in
Pausanias' _Description of Greece_, Book VI. chap. XI.]

[Footnote 124: Shakespeare, the greatest of English writers, seems to
have succeeded entirely or almost entirely in removing the personal
element from his writings.]

[Footnote 125: Hellenic, Greek.]

[Footnote 126: Tit for tat, etc. This paragraph is composed of a
series of proverbs.]

[Footnote 127: Edmund Burke (1729?-1797), illustrious Irish statesman,
orator, and author.]

[Footnote 128: Pawns, the pieces of lowest rank in chess.]

[Footnote 129: What is the meaning of _obscene_ here? Compare the

[Footnote 130: Polycrates, a tyrant of Samos, who was visited with
such remarkable prosperity that he was advised by a friend to break
the course of it by depriving himself of some valued possession. In
accordance with this advice he cast into the sea an emerald ring which
he considered his rarest treasure. A few days later a fisherman
presented the monarch with a large fish inside of which the ring was
found. Soon after this Polycrates fell into the power of an enemy and
was nailed to a cross.]

[Footnote 131: Scot and lot, "formerly, a parish assessment laid on
subjects according to their ability. Now, a phrase for obligations of
every kind regarded collectively." (Webster.)]

[Footnote 132: Read Emerson's essay on _Gifts_.]

[Footnote 133: Worm worms, breed worms.]

[Footnote 134: Compare the old proverb "Murder will out." See Chaucer,
_N.P.T._, 232 and 237, and _Pr. T._, 124.]

[Footnote 135:

"Et semel emissum volat irrevocabile verbum."
                       HORACE, _EPIST._, I. XVIII. 65.


[Footnote 136: Stag in the fable. See _AEsop_, LXVI. 184, _Cerva et
Leo_; Phaedrus I. 12. _Cervus ad fontem_; La Fontaine, vi. 9, _Le Cerf
se Voyant dans l'eau_.]

[Footnote 137: See the quotation from St. Bernard farther on.]

[Footnote 138: Withholden, old participle of _withhold_, now

[Footnote 139: What is the etymology of the word _mob_?]

[Footnote 140: Optimism and Pessimism. The meanings of these two
opposites are readily made out from the Latin words from which they

[Footnote 141: St. Bernard de Clairvaux (1091-1153), French

[Footnote 142: Jesus. Holmes writes of Emerson: "Jesus was for him a
divine manifestation, but only as other great human souls have been in
all ages and are to-day. He was willing to be called a Christian just
as he was willing to be called a Platonist.... If he did not worship
the 'man Christ Jesus' as the churches of Christendom have done, he
followed his footsteps so nearly that our good Methodist, Father
Taylor, spoke of him as more like Christ than any man he had known."]

[Footnote 143: The first _his_ refers to Jesus, the second to

[Footnote 144: Banyan. What is the characteristic of this tree that
makes it appropriate for this figure?]


[Footnote 145: Ne te, etc. "Do not seek for anything outside of
thyself." From Persius, _Sat._ I. 7. Compare Macrobius, _Com. in Somn.
Scip._, I. ix. 3, and Boethius, _De Consol. Phil._, IV. 4.]

[Footnote 146: _Epilogue to Beaumont and Fletcher's Honest Man's

[Footnote 147: These lines appear in Emerson's _Quatrains_ under the
title _Power_.]

[Footnote 148: Genius. See the paragraph on genius in Emerson's
lecture on _The Method of Nature_, one sentence of which runs: "Genius
is its own end, and draws its means and the style of its architecture
from within, going abroad only for audience, and spectator."]

[Footnote 149: "The man that stands by himself, the universe stands by
him also."--EMERSON, _Behavior_.]

[Footnote 150: Plato (429-347 B.C.), (See note 36.)]

[Footnote 151: Milton (1608-1674), the great English epic poet, author
of _Paradise Lost._

   "O mighty-mouth'd inventor of harmonies,
    O skill'd to sing of Time or Eternity,
    God-gifted organ-voice of England,
    Milton, a name to resound for ages."--TENNYSON.


[Footnote 152: "The great poet makes feel our own wealth."--EMERSON,
_The Over-Soul_.]

[Footnote 153: Then most when, most at the time when.]

[Footnote 154: "The imitator dooms himself to hopeless
mediocrity."--EMERSON, _Address to the Senior Class in Divinity
College, Cambridge_.]

[Footnote 155:

   "For words, like Nature, half reveal
    And half conceal the soul within."
                      TENNYSON, _In Memoriam_, V. I.


[Footnote 156: Trust thyself. This is the theme of the present essay,
and is a lesson which Emerson is never tired of teaching. In _The
American Scholar_ he says:

"In self-trust all the virtues are comprehended." In the essay on

"Self-respect is the early form in which greatness appears.... Stick
to your own.... Follow the path your genius traces like the galaxy of
heaven for you to walk in."

Carlyle says:

     "The fearful unbelief is unbelief in yourself."


[Footnote 157: Chaos ([Greek: Chaos]), the confused, unorganized
condition in which the world was supposed to have existed before it
was reduced to harmony and order; hence, utter confusion and

[Footnote 158: These, _i.e._, children, babes, and brutes.]

[Footnote 159: Four or five. Supply the noun.]

[Footnote 160: Nonchalance, a French word meaning _indifference_,

[Footnote 161: Pit in the playhouse, formerly, the seats on the floor
below the level of the stage. These cheap seats were occupied by a
class who did not hesitate to express their opinions of the

[Footnote 162: Eclat, a French word meaning _brilliancy of success_,
_striking effect_.]

[Footnote 163: "Lethe, the river of oblivion."--_Paradise Lost_.
Oblivion, forgetfulness.]

[Footnote 164: Who. What is the construction?]

[Footnote 165: Nonconformist, one who does not conform to established
usages or opinions. Emerson considers conformity and consistency as
the two terrors that scare us from self-trust. (See note 182.)]

[Footnote 166: Explore if it be goodness, investigate for himself and
see if it be really goodness.

    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."
                                    PAUL, _I. Thes._ v. 21.


[Footnote 167: Suffrage, approval.

    "What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted?
    Thrice is he arm'd that hath his quarrel just;
    And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel,
    Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted."
                      SHAKESPEARE, _II. Henry VI._, III. 2.


[Footnote 168: "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking
makes it so." _Hamlet_, II. 2.]

[Footnote 169: Barbadoes, an island in the Atlantic Ocean, one of the
Lesser Antilles. The negroes, composing by far the larger part of the
population, were formerly slaves.]

[Footnote 170: He had rather have his actions ascribed to whim and
caprice than to spend the day in explaining them.]

[Footnote 171: Diet and bleeding, special diet and medical care, used
figuratively, of course.]

[Footnote 172: Read Emerson's essay on _Greatness_.]

[Footnote 173: The precise man, precisely what kind of man.]

[Footnote 174: "By their fruits ye shall know them."--_Matthew_, vii.
16 and 20.]

[Footnote 175: With, notwithstanding, in spite of.]

[Footnote 176: Of the bench, of an impartial judge.]

[Footnote 177: Bound their eyes with ... handkerchief, in this game of

[Footnote 178: "Pin thy faith to no man's sleeve; hast thou not two
eyes of thy own?"--CARLYLE.]

[Footnote 179: Give examples of men who have been made to feel the
displeasure of the world for their nonconformity.]

[Footnote 180: "Nihil tam incertum nec tam inaestimabile est quam animi
multitudinis."--LIVY, xxxi. 34.

    "Mobile mutatur semper cum principe vulgus."
                    CLAUDIANUS, _De IV. Consul. Honorii_, 302.


[Footnote 181: _The other terror._ The first, conformity, has just
been treated.]

[Footnote 182: Consistency. Compare, on the other hand, the well-known
saying, "Consistency, thou art a jewel."]

[Footnote 183: Orbit, course in life.]

[Footnote 184: Somewhat, something.]

[Footnote 185: See _Genesis_, xxxix. 12.]

[Footnote 186: Pythagoras (fl. about 520 B.C.), a Greek philosopher.
His society was scattered and persecuted by the fury of the populace.]

[Footnote 187: Socrates (470?-399 B.C.), the great Athenian
philosopher, whose teachings are the subject of most of Plato's
writings, was accused of corrupting the youth, and condemned to drink

[Footnote 188: Martin Luther (1483-1546) preached against certain
abuses of the Roman Catholic Church and was excommunicated by the
Pope. He became the leader of the Protestant Reformation.]

[Footnote 189: Copernicus (1473-1543) discovered the error of the old
Ptolemaic system of astronomy and showed that the sun is the centre of
our planetary system. Fearing the persecution of the church, he
hesitated long to publish his discovery, and it was many years after
his death before the world accepted his theory.]

[Footnote 190: Galileo (1564-1642), the famous Italian astronomer and
physicist, discoverer of the satellites of Jupiter and the rings of
Saturn, was thrown into prison by the Inquisition.]

[Footnote 191: Sir Isaac Newton. (See note 53.)]

[Footnote 192: Andes, the great mountain system of South America.]

[Footnote 193: Himmaleh, Himalaya, the great mountain system of Asia.]

[Footnote 194: Alexandrian stanza. The Alexandrian line consists of
twelve syllables (iambic hexameter). Neither the acrostic nor the
Alexandrine has the property assigned to it here. A palindrame reads
the same forward as backward, as:

                "Madam, I'm Adam";
    "Signa te signa; temere me tangis et angis";

or the inscription on the church of St. Sophia, Constantinople:

    [Greek: "Nipson anomemata me monan opsin,"]


[Footnote 195: The reference is to sailing vessels, of course.]

[Footnote 196: Scorn eyes, scorn observers.]

[Footnote 197: Chatham, William Pitt, Earl of Chatham (1708-1778),
this distinguished statesman and orator. He became very popular as a
statesman and was known as "The Great Commoner."]

[Footnote 198: Adams. The reference is presumably to Samuel Adams
(1722-1803), a popular leader and orator in the cause of American
freedom. He was a member of the Continental Congress and a signer of
the Declaration of Independence. Emerson may have in mind, however,
John Adams (1735-1826), second president of the United States.]

[Footnote 199: Spartan. The ancient Spartans were noted for their
courage and fortitude.]

[Footnote 200: Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.), the great Roman general,
statesman, orator, and author.]

[Footnote 201: St. Anthony (251-356), Egyptian founder of monachism,
the system of monastic seclusion.]

[Footnote 202: George Fox (1624-1691), English founder of the Society
of Friends or Quakers.]

[Footnote 203: John Wesley (1703-1791), English founder of the
religious sect known as Methodists.]

[Footnote 204: Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846), English philanthropist and

[Footnote 205: Scipio (235-184 B.C.), the great Roman general who
defeated Hannibal and decided the fate of Carthage. The quotation is
from _Paradise Lost_, Book IX., line 610.]

[Footnote 206: In the story of _Abou Hassan_ or _The Sleeper Awakened_
in the _Arabian Nights_ Abou Hassan awakes and finds himself treated
in every respect as the Caliph Haroun Al-raschid. Shakespeare has made
use of a similar trick in _Taming of the Shrew_, where Christopher Sly
is put to bed drunk in the lord's room and on awaking is treated as a

[Footnote 207: Alfred the Great (849-901), King of the West Saxons. He
was a wise king, a great scholar, and a patron of learning.]

[Footnote 208: Scanderbeg, George Castriota (1404-1467), an Albanian
chief who embraced Christianity and carried on a successful war
against the Turks.]

[Footnote 209: Gustavus Adolphus (1594-1632), King of Sweden, the hero
of Protestantism in the Thirty Years' War.]

[Footnote 210: Hieroglyphic, a character in the picture-writing of the
ancient Egyptian priests; hence, hidden sign.]

[Footnote 211: Parallax, an angle used in astronomy in calculating the
distance of a heavenly body. The parallax decreases as the distance of
the body increases.]

[Footnote 212: The child has the advantage of the experience of all
his ancestors. Compare Tennyson's line in _Locksley Hall_:

    "I the heir of all the ages, in the foremost files of time."


[Footnote 213: "Why should we grope among the dry bones of the past,
or put the living generation into masquerade out of its faded
wardrobe? The sun shines to-day also."--EMERSON, _Introd. to Nature,
Addresses, etc._]

[Footnote 214: Explain the thought in this sentence.]

[Footnote 215: Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.]

[Footnote 216: Agent, active, acting.]

[Footnote 217: An allusion to the Mohammedan custom of removing the
shoes before entering a mosque.]

[Footnote 218: Of a truth, men are mystically united; a mystic bond of
brotherhood makes all men one.]

[Footnote 219: Thor and Woden. Woden or Odin was the chief god of
Scandinavian mythology. Thor, his elder son, was the god of thunder.
From these names come the names of the days Wednesday and Thursday.]

[Footnote 220: Explain the meaning of this sentence.]

[Footnote 221: You, or you, addressing different persons.]

[Footnote 222: "The truth shall make you free."--_John_, viii. 32.]

[Footnote 223: Antinomianism, the doctrine that the moral law is not
binding under the gospel dispensation, faith alone being necessary to

[Footnote 224: "There is no sorrow I have thought more about than
that--to love what is great, and try to reach it, and yet to fail."
        GEORGE ELIOT, _Middlemarch_, lxxvi.]

[Footnote 225: Explain the use of _it_ in these expressions.]

[Footnote 226: Stoic, a disciple of the Greek philosopher Zeno, who
taught that men should be free from passion, unmoved by joy and grief,
and should submit without complaint to the inevitable.]

[Footnote 227: Word made flesh, see _John_, i. 14.]

[Footnote 228: Healing to the nations, see _Revelation_, xxii. 2.]

[Footnote 229: In what prayers do men allow themselves to indulge?]

[Footnote 230:

    "Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
     Uttered or unexpressed,
     The motion of a hidden fire
     That trembles in the breast."
                    MONTGOMERY, _What is Prayer?_

[Footnote 231: Caratach (Caractacus) is a historical character in
Fletcher's (1576-1625) tragedy of _Bonduca_(Boadicea).]

[Footnote 232: Zoroaster, a Persian philosopher, founder of the
ancient Persian religion. He flourished long before the Christian

[Footnote 233: "Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God
speak with us, lest we die."--_Exodus_, xx. 19. Compare also the
parallel passage in _Deuteronomy_, v. 25-27.]

[Footnote 234: John Locke. (See note 18.)]

[Footnote 235: Lavoisier (1743-1794), celebrated French chemical
philosopher, discoverer of the composition of water.]

[Footnote 236: James Hutton (1726-1797), great Scotch geologist,
author of the _Theory of the Earth_.]

[Footnote 237: Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), English philosopher,
jurist, and legislative reformer.]

[Footnote 238: Fourier (1772-1837), French socialist, founder of the
system of Fourierism.]

[Footnote 239: Calvinism, the doctrines of John Calvin (1509-1564).
French theologian and Protestant reformer. A cardinal doctrine of
Calvinism is predestination.]

[Footnote 240: Quakerism, the doctrines of the Quakers or Friends, a
society founded by George Fox (1624-1691).]

[Footnote 241: Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), Swedish theosophist,
founder of the New Jerusalem Church. He is taken by Emerson in his
_Representative Men_ as the type of the mystic, and is often mentioned
in his other works.]

[Footnote 242: "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us, or we find it not."--EMERSON, _Art_.]

[Footnote 243: Thebes, a celebrated ruined city of Upper Egypt.]

[Footnote 244: Palmyra, a ruined city of Asia situated in an oasis of
the Syrian desert, supposed to be the Tadmor built by Solomon in the
wilderness (_II. Chr._, viii. 4).]

[Footnote 245:

    "Vain, very vain, my weary search to find
     That bliss which only centers in the mind....
     Still to ourselves in every place consign'd,
     Our own felicity we make or find."
                              GOLDSMITH (and JOHNSON),
                              _The Traveler_, 423-32.

    "He that has light within his own clear breast
     May sit i' th' center, and enjoy bright day;
     But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts,
     Benighted walks under the mid-day sun;
     Himself in his own dungeon."
                             MILTON, _Comus_, 381-5.

Compare also _Paradise Lost_, I, 255-7.]

[Footnote 246: Vatican, the palace of the pope in Rome, with its
celebrated library, museum, and art gallery.]

[Footnote 247: Doric, the oldest, strongest, and simplest of the three
styles of Grecian architecture.]

[Footnote 248: Gothic, a pointed style of architecture, prevalent in
western Europe in the latter part of the middle ages.]

[Footnote 249: Never imitate. Emerson insists on this doctrine.]

[Footnote 250: Shakespeare (1564-1616), the great English poet and
dramatist. He is mentioned in Emerson's writings more than any other
character in history, and is taken as the type of the poet in his
_Representative Men_.

"O mighty poet! Thy works are not as those of other men, simply and
merely great works of art; but are also like the phenomena of nature,
like the sun and the sea, the stars and the flowers,--like frost and
snow, rain and dew, hailstorm and thunder, which are to be studied
with entire submission of our own faculties, and in the perfect faith
that in them there can be no too much or too little, nothing useless
or inert,--but that, the further we press in our discoveries, the more
we shall see proofs of design and self-supporting arrangement where
the careless eye had seen nothing but accident!"--DE QUINCY.]

[Footnote 251: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American philosopher,
statesman, diplomatist, and author. He discovered the identity of
lightning with electricity, invented the lightning-rod, went on
several diplomatic missions to Europe, was one of the committee that
drew up the Declaration of Independence, signed the treaty of Paris,
and compiled _Poor Richard's Almanac_.]

[Footnote 252: Francis Bacon (1561-1626), a famous English philosopher
and statesman. He became Lord Chancellor under Elizabeth. He is best
known by his _Essays_; he wrote also the _Novum Organum_ and the
_Advancement of Learning_.]

[Footnote 253: Sir Isaac Newton. (See note 53.)]

[Footnote 254: Scipio. (See note 205.)]

[Footnote 255: Phidias (500?-432? B.C.), famous Greek sculptor.]

[Footnote 256: Egyptians. He has in mind the pyramids.]

[Footnote 257: The Pentateuch is attributed to Moses.]

[Footnote 258: Dante (1265-1321), the greatest of Italian poets,
author of the _Divina Commedia_.]

[Footnote 259: Foreworld, a former ideal state of the world.]

[Footnote 260: New Zealander, inhabitant of New Zealand, a group of
two islands lying southeast of Australia.]

[Footnote 261: Geneva, a city of Switzerland, situated at the
southwestern extremity of Lake Geneva.]

[Footnote 262: Greenwich nautical almanac. The meridian of the Royal
Observatory at Greenwich, near London, is the prime meridian for
reckoning the longitude of the world. The nautical almanac is a
publication containing astronomical data for the use of navigators and
astronomers. What is the name of the corresponding publication of the
U.S. Observatory at Washington?]

[Footnote 263: Get the meaning of these astronomical terms.]

[Footnote 264: Plutarch. (50?-120? A.D.), Greek philosopher and
biographer, author of _Parallel Lives_, a series of Greek and Roman
biographies. Next after Shakespeare and Plato he is the author most
frequently mentioned by Emerson. Read the essay of Emerson on

[Footnote 265: Phocion (402-317 B.C.), Athenian statesman and general.
(See note 364.)]

[Footnote 266: Anaxagoras (500-426 B.C.), Greek philosopher of

[Footnote 267: Diogenes (400?-323?), Greek cynic philosopher who
affected great contempt for riches and honors and the comforts of
civilized life, and is said to have taken up his residence in a tub.]

[Footnote 268: Henry Hudson (---- - 1611), English navigator and
explorer, discoverer of the bay and river which bear his name.]

[Footnote 269: Bering or Behring (1680-1741), Danish navigator,
discoverer of Behring Strait.]

[Footnote 270: Sir William Edward Parry (1790-1855), English navigator
and Arctic explorer.]

[Footnote 271: Sir John Franklin (1786-1846?), celebrated English
navigator and Arctic explorer, lost in the Arctic seas.]

[Footnote 272: Christopher Columbus (1445?-1506), Genoese navigator
and discoverer of America. His ship, the Santa Maria, appears small
and insignificant in comparison with the modern ocean ship.]

[Footnote 273: Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), Emperor of France, one
of the greatest military geniuses the world has ever seen. He was
defeated in the battle of Waterloo by the Duke of Wellington, and died
in exile on the isle of St. Helena. Emerson takes him as a type of the
man of the world in his _Representative Men_: "I call Napoleon the
agent or attorney of the middle class of modern society.... He was the
agitator, the destroyer of prescription, the internal improver, the
liberal, the radical, the inventor of means, the opener of doors and
markets, the subverter of monopoly and abuse.... He had the virtues of
the masses of his constituents: he had also their vices. I am sorry
that the brilliant picture has its reverse."]

[Footnote 274: Comte de las Cases (not Casas) (1766-1842), author of
_Memorial de Sainte-Helene_.]

[Footnote 275: Ali, Arabian caliph, surnamed the "Lion of God," cousin
and son-in-law of Mohammed. He was assassinated about 661.]

[Footnote 276: The county of Essex in England has several namesakes in

[Footnote 277: Fortune. In Roman mythology Fortune, the goddess of
fortune or chance, is represented as standing on a ball or wheel.

    "Nec metuis dubio Fortunae stantis in orbe
      Numen, et exosae verba superba deae?"
                      OVID, _Tristia_, v., 8, 8.



[Footnote 278: Most of Emerson's _Essays_ were first delivered as
lectures, in practically the form in which they afterwards appeared in
print. The form and style, it is true, were always carefully revised
before publication; this Emerson called 'giving his thoughts a Greek
dress.' His essay on _Friendship_, published in the First Series of
_Essays_ in 1841 was not, so far as we know, delivered as a lecture;
parts of it, however, were taken from lectures which Emerson delivered
on _Society_, _The Heart_, and _Private Life_.

In connection with his essay on _Friendship_, the student should read
the two other notable addresses on the same subject, one the speech by
Cicero, the famous Roman orator, and the other the essay by Lord
Bacon, the great English author.]

[Footnote 279: Relume. Is this a common word? Define it.]

[Footnote 280: Pass my gate. The walk opposite Emerson's house on the
'Great Road' to Boston was a favorite winter walk for Concord people.
Along it passed the philosophic Alcott and the imaginative Hawthorne,
as well as famous townsmen, and school children.]

[Footnote 281: My friends have come to me, etc.: Compare with
Emerson's views here expressed the noble passage in his essay on _The
Over-Soul_: "Every friend whom not thy fantastic will but the great
and tender heart in thee craveth, shall lock thee in his embrace. And
this because the heart in thee is the heart of all; not a valve, not a
wall, not an intersection is there anywhere in nature, but one blood
rolls uninterruptedly in endless circulation through all men, as the
water of the globe is all one sea, and, truly seen, its tide is one."]

[Footnote 282: Bard. Poet: originally one who composed and sang to the
music of a harp verses in honor of heroes and heroic deeds.]

[Footnote 283: Hymn, ode, and epic. Define each of these three kinds
of poetry.]

[Footnote 284: Apollo. In classic mythology, the sun god who presided
over music, poetry, and art; he was the guardian and leader of the

[Footnote 285: Muses. In classic mythology, the nine sisters who
presided over music, poetry, art, and science. They were Clio the muse
of history, Euterpe of music, especially the flute, Thalia of comedy,
Melpomene of tragedy, Terpsichore of dancing, Erato of erotic poetry,
mistress of the lyre, Polyhymnia of sacred poetry, Urania of
astronomy, Calliope of eloquence and epic poetry.]

[Footnote 286: Genius. According to an old belief, a spirit that
watched over a person to control, guide and aid him.]

[Footnote 287: "Crush the sweet poison," etc. This is a quotation from
_Comus_, a poem by Milton.]

[Footnote 288: Systole and diastole. (See note 98.)]

[Footnote 289: Friendship, like the immortality, etc. See on what a
high plane Emerson places this relation of friendship. In 1840 he
wrote in a letter: "I am a worshiper of friendship, and cannot find
any other good equal to it. As soon as any man pronounces the words
which approve him fit for that great office, I make no haste; he is
holy; let me be holy also; our relations are eternal; why should we
count days and weeks?"]

[Footnote 290: Elysian temple. Temple of bliss. In Greek mythology,
Elysium was the abode of the blessed after death.]

[Footnote 291: An Egyptian skull. Plutarch says that at an Egyptian
feast a skull was displayed, either as a hint to make the most of the
pleasure which can be enjoyed but for a brief space, or as a warning
not to set one's heart upon transitory things.]

[Footnote 292: Conscious of a universal success, etc. Emerson wrote in
his journal: "My entire success, such as it is, is composed wholly of
particular failures."]

[Footnote 293: Extends the old leaf. Compare Emerson's lines:

   "When half-gods go
    The gods arrive."


[Footnote 294: A texture of wine and dreams. What does Emerson mean by
this phrase? Explain the whole sentence.]

[Footnote 295: "The valiant warrior," etc. The quotation is from
Shakespeare's _Sonnet_, XXV.]

[Footnote 296: Naturlangsamkeit. A German word meaning slowness. The
slowness of natural development.]

[Footnote 297: Olympian. One who took part in the great Greek games
held every four years on the plain of Olympia. The racing, wrestling
and other contests of strength and skill were accompanied by
sacrifices to the gods, processions, and banquets. There was a sense
of dignity and almost of worship about the games. The Olympic games
have been recently revived, and athletes from all countries of the
world contest for the prizes--simple garlands of wild olive.]

[Footnote 298: I knew a man who, etc. The allusion is to Jonas Very, a
mystic and poet, who lived at Salem, Massachusetts.]

[Footnote 299: Paradox. Define this word. Explain its application to a

[Footnote 300: My author says, etc. The quotation is from _A
Consideration upon Cicero_, by the French author, Montaigne. Montaigne
was one of Emerson's favorite authors from his boyhood: of the essays
he says, "I felt as if I myself, had written this book in some former
life, so sincerely it spoke my thoughts."]

[Footnote 301: Cherub. What is the difference between a cherub and a

[Footnote 302: Curricle. A two-wheeled carriage, especially popular in
the eighteenth century.]

[Footnote 303: This law of one to one. Emerson felt that this same law
applied to nature. He wrote in his journal: "Nature says to man, 'one
to one, my dear.'"]

[Footnote 304: Crimen quos, etc. The Latin saying is translated in
the preceding sentence.]

[Footnote 305: Nonage. We use more commonly the word, "minority."]

[Footnote 306: Janus-faced. The word here means simply two-faced,
without the idea of deceit usually attached to it. In Roman mythology,
Janus, the doorkeeper of heaven was the protector of doors and
gateways and the patron of the beginning and end of undertakings. He
was the god of the rising and setting of the sun, and was represented
with two faces, one looking to the east and the other to the west. His
temple at Rome was kept open in time of war and closed in time of

[Footnote 307: Harbinger. A forerunner; originally an officer who rode
in advance of a royal person to secure proper lodgings and

[Footnote 308: Empyrean. Highest and purest heaven; according to the
ancients, the region of pure light and fire.]


[Footnote 309: Title. Probably this essay is, essentially at least,
the lecture on _Heroism_ delivered in Boston in the winter of 1837, in
the course of lectures on _Human Culture_.]

[Footnote 310: Motto. This saying of Mahomet's was the only motto
prefixed to the essay in the first edition. In later editions, Emerson
prefixed, according to his custom, some original lines;

   "Ruby wine is drunk by knaves,
    Sugar spends to fatten slaves,
    Rose and vine-leaf deck buffoons,
    Thunder clouds are Jove's festoons,
    Drooping oft in wreaths of dread
    Lightning-knotted round his head:
    The hero is not fed on sweets,
    Daily his own heart he eats;
    Chambers of the great are jails,
    And head-winds right for royal sails."


[Footnote 311: Elder English dramatists. The dramatists who preceded
Shakespeare. In his essay on _Shakespeare; or, the Poet_, Emerson
enumerates the foremost of these,--"Kyd, Marlowe, Greene, Jonson,
Chapman, Dekker, Webster, Heywood, Middleton, Peele, Ford, Massinger,
Beaumont and Fletcher."]

[Footnote 312: Beaumont and Fletcher. Francis Beaumont and John
Fletcher were two dramatists of the Elizabethan age. They wrote
together and their styles were so similar that critics are unable to
identify the share of each in their numerous plays.]

[Footnote 313: Rodrigo, Pedro, or Valerio. Favorite names for heroes
among the dramatists. Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, known usually by the
title of the Cid, was the national hero of Spain, famous for his
exploits against the Moors. Don Pedro was the Prince of Arragon in
Shakespeare's play, _Much Ado About Nothing_.]

[Footnote 314: Bonduca, Sophocles, the Mad Lover, and Double Marriage.
The first, third and fourth are names of plays by Beaumont and
Fletcher. In the case of the second, Emerson, by a lapse of memory,
gives the name of one of the chief characters instead of the name of
the play--_The Triumph of Honor_ in a piece called _Four Plays in
One_. It is from this play by Beaumont and Fletcher that the passage
in the essay is quoted.]

[Footnote 315: Adriadne's crown. According to Greek mythology, the
crown of Adriadne was, for her beauty and her sufferings, put among
the stars. She was the daughter of Minos, King of Crete; she gave
Theseus the clue by means of which he escaped from the labyrinth and
she was afterwards abandoned by him.]

[Footnote 316: Romulus. The reputed founder of the city of Rome.]

[Footnote 317: Laodamia, Dion. Read these two poems by Wordsworth, the
great English poet, and tell why you think Emerson mentioned them

[Footnote 318: Scott. Sir Walter Scott, a famous Scotch author.]

[Footnote 319: Lord Evandale, Balfour of Burley. These are characters
in Scott's novel, _Old Mortality_. The passage referred to by Emerson
is in the forty-second chapter.]

[Footnote 320: Thomas Carlyle. Carlyle was a great admirer of heroes,
asserting that history is the biography of great men. One of his most
popular books is _Heroes and Hero-Worship_, on a plan similar to that
of Emerson's _Representative Men_.]

[Footnote 321: Robert Burns. A Scotch lyric poet. Emerson was probably
thinking of the patriotic song, _Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled_.]

[Footnote 322: Harleian Miscellanies. A collection of manuscripts
published in the eighteenth century, and named for Robert Harley, the
English statesman who collected them.]

[Footnote 323: Lutzen. A small town in Prussia. The battle referred to
was fought in 1632 and in it the Swedes under Gustavus Adolphus gained
a great victory over vastly superior numbers. Nearly two hundred years
later another battle was fought at Lutzen, in which Napoleon gained a
victory over the allied Russians and Prussians.]

[Footnote 324: Simon Ockley. An English scholar of the seventeenth
century whose chief work was a _History of the Saracens_.]

[Footnote 325: Oxford. One of the two great English universities.]

[Footnote 326: Plutarch. (See note 264.)]

[Footnote 327: Brasidas. This hero, described by Plutarch, was a
Spartan general who lived about four hundred years before Christ.]

[Footnote 328: Dion. A Greek philosopher who ruled the city of
Syracuse in the fourth century before Christ.]

[Footnote 329: Epaminondas. A Greek general and statesman of the
fourth century before Christ.]

[Footnote 330: Scipio. (See note 205.)]

[Footnote 331: Stoicism. The stern and severe philosophy taught by the
Greek philosopher Zeno; he taught that men should always seek virtue
and be indifferent to pleasure and happiness. This belief, carried to
the extreme of severity, exercised a great influence on many noble
Greeks and Romans.]

[Footnote 332: Heroism is an obedience, etc. In one of his poems
Emerson says:

   "So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
    So near is God to man,
    When Duty whispers low, 'Thou must,'
    The youth replies, 'I can.'"


[Footnote 333: Plotinus. An Egyptian philosopher who taught in Rome
during the third century. It was said that he so exalted the mind that
he was ashamed of his body.]

[Footnote 334: Indeed these humble considerations, etc. The passage,
like many which Emerson quotes, is rendered inexactly. The Prince says
to Poins: "Indeed these humble considerations make me out of love with
my greatness. What a disgrace it is to me to remember thy name! or to
know thy face to-morrow! or to take note how many pairs of silk
stockings thou hast, that is, these and those that were thy
peach-colored ones! or to bear the inventory of thy shirts, as, one
for superfluity and another for use!" Shakespeare's _Henry IV._, Part
II. 2, 2.]

[Footnote 335: Ibn Hankal. Ibn Hankul, an Arabian geographer and
traveler of the tenth century. He wrote an account of his twenty
years' travels in Mohammedan countries; in 1800 this was translated
into English by Sir William Jones under the title of _The Oriental
Geography of Ibn Hankal_. In that volume this anecdote is told in
slightly different words.]

[Footnote 336: Bokhara. Where is Bokhara? It corresponds to the
ancient Sogdiana.]

[Footnote 337: Bannocks. Thick cakes, made usually of oatmeal. What
does Emerson mean by this sentence? Probably no person ever met his
visitors, many of whom were "exacting and wearisome," and must have
been unwelcome, with more perfect courtesy and graciousness than

[Footnote 338: John Eliot. Give as full an account as you can of the
life and works of this noble Apostle to the Indians of the seventeenth

[Footnote 339: King David, etc. See First Chronicles, 11, 15-19.]

[Footnote 340: Brutus. Marcus Junius Brutus, a Roman patriot of the
first century before Christ, who took part in the assassination of
Julius Caesar.]

[Footnote 341: Philippi. A city of Macedonia near which in the year 42
B.C. were fought two battles in which the republican army under Brutus
and Cassius was defeated by Octavius and Antony, friends of Caesar.]

[Footnote 342: Euripides. A Greek tragic poet of the fifth century
before Christ.]

[Footnote 343: Scipio. (See note 205.) Plutarch in his _Morals_ gives
another version of the story: "When Paetilius and Quintus accused him
of many crimes before the people; 'on this very day,' he said, 'I
conquered Hannibal and Carthage. I for my part am going with my crown
on to the Capitol to sacrifice; and let him that pleaseth stay and
pass his vote upon me.' Having thus said, he went his way; and the
people followed him, leaving his accusers declaiming to themselves."]

[Footnote 344: Socrates. (See note 187.)]

[Footnote 345: Prytaneum. A public hall at Athens.]

[Footnote 346: Sir Thomas More. An English statesman and author who
was beheaded in 1535 on a charge of high treason. The incident to
which Emerson refers is one which showed his "pleasant wit"
undisturbed by the prospect of death. As the executioner was about to
strike, More moved his head carefully out of reach of the ax. "Pity
that should be cut," he said, "that has never committed treason."]

[Footnote 347: Blue Laws. Any rigid Sunday laws or religious
regulations. The term is usually applied to the early laws of New
Haven and Connecticut which regulated personal and religious conduct.]

[Footnote 348: Epaminondas. (See note 329.)]

[Footnote 349: Olympus. A mountain of Greece, the summit of which,
according to Greek mythology, was the home of the gods.]

[Footnote 350: Jerseys. Consult a history of the United States for a
full account of Washington's campaign in New Jersey.]

[Footnote 351: Milton. (See note 151.)]

[Footnote 352: Pericles. A famous Greek statesman of the fifth century
before Christ, in whose age Athens was preeminent in naval and
military affairs and in letters and art.]

[Footnote 353: Xenophon. A Greek historian of the fourth century
before Christ.]

[Footnote 354: Columbus. Give an account of his life.]

[Footnote 355: Bayard. Chevalier de Bayard was a French gentleman of
the fifteenth century. He is the French national hero, and is called
"The Knight without fear and without reproach."]

[Footnote 356: Sidney. Probably Sir Philip Sidney, an English
gentleman and scholar of the sixteenth century who is the English
national hero as Bayard is the French; another brave Englishman was
Algernon Sidney, a politician and patriot of the seventeenth century.]

[Footnote 357: Hampden. John Hampden was an English statesman and
patriot who was killed in the civil war of the seventeenth century.]

[Footnote 358: Colossus. The Colossus of Rhodes was a gigantic
statue--over a hundred feet in height--of the Rhodian sun god. It was
one of the seven wonders of the world; it was destroyed by an
earthquake about two hundred years before Christ.]

[Footnote 359: Sappho. A Greek poet of the seventh century before
Christ. Her fame remains, though most of her poems have been lost.]

[Footnote 360: Sevigne. Marquise de Sevigne was a French author of the
seventeenth century.]

[Footnote 361: De Stael. Madame de Stael was a French writer whose
books and political opinions were condemned by Napoleon.]

[Footnote 362: Themis. A Greek goddess. The personification of law,
order, and justice.]

[Footnote 363: A high counsel, etc. Such was the advice given to the
Emerson boys by their aunt, Miss. Mary Moody Emerson: "Scorn trifles,
lift your aims; do what you are afraid to do; sublimity of character
must come from sublimity of motive." Upon her monument are inscribed
Emerson's words about her: "She gave high counsels. It was the
privilege of certain boys to have this immeasurably high standard
indicated to their childhood, a blessing which nothing else in
education could supply."]

[Footnote 364: Phocion. A Greek general and statesman of the fourth
century before Christ who advised the Athenians to make peace with
Philip of Macedon. He was put to death on a charge of treason.]

[Footnote 365: Lovejoy. Rev. Elijah Lovejoy, a Presbyterian clergyman
of Maine who published a periodical against slavery. In 1837 an
Illinois mob demanded his printing press, which he refused to give up.
The building containing it was set on fire and when Lovejoy came out
he was shot.]

[Footnote 366: Let them rave, etc. These lines are misquoted, being
evidently given from memory, from Tennyson's _Dirge_. In the poem
occur these lines:

          "Let them rave.
    Thou wilt never raise thine head
    From the green that folds thy grave--
          Let them rave."



[Footnote 367: The essay on _Manners_ is from the Second Series of
_Essays_, published in 1844, three years after the First Series. The
essays in this volume, like those in the first, were, for the most
part, made up of Emerson's lectures, rearranged and corrected. The
lecture on _Manners_ had been delivered in the winter of 1841. He had
given another lecture on the same subject about four years before, and
several years later he treated of the same subject in his essay on
_Behavior_ in _The Conduct of Life_. You will find it interesting to
read _Behavior_ in connection with this essay.]

[Footnote 368: Feejee islanders. Since this essay was written, the
people of the Feejee, or Fiji, Islands have become Christianized, and,
to a large extent, civilized.]

[Footnote 369: Gournou. This description is found in _A Narrative of
the Operations and Recent Discoveries within the Pyramids_, by
Belzoni, an Italian traveler and explorer.]

[Footnote 370: Borgoo. A province of Africa.]

[Footnote 371: Tibboos, Bornoos. Tribes of Central Africa, mentioned
in Heeren's _Historical Researches_.]

[Footnote 372: Honors himself with architecture. Architecture was a
subject in which Emerson was deeply interested. Read his poem, _The

[Footnote 373: Chivalry. Chivalry may be considered "as embodying the
Middle Age conception of the ideal life of ... the Knights"; the word
is often used to express "the ideal qualifications of a knight, as
courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms." Fully to
understand the order of Knighthood and the ideals of chivalry, you
must read the history of Europe in the Middle Ages.]

[Footnote 374: Sir Philip Sidney. (See note 356.)]

[Footnote 375: Sir Walter Scott. (1771-1832). His historical novels
dealing with the Middle Ages have some fine pictures of the chivalrous
characters in which he delighted.]

[Footnote 376: Masonic sign. A sign of secret brotherhood, like the
sign given by one Mason to another.]

[Footnote 377: Correlative abstract. Corresponding abstract name. Sir
Philip Sidney, himself the ideal gentleman, used the word
"gentlemanliness." He said: "Gentlemanliness is high-erected thoughts
seated in a heart of courtesy."]

[Footnote 378: Gentilesse. Gentle birth and breeding. Emerson was very
fond of the passage on "gentilesse" in Chaucer's _Wife of Bath's

[Footnote 379: Feudal Ages. The Middle Ages in Europe during which the
feudal system prevailed. According to this, land was held by its
owners on condition of certain duties, especially military service,
performed for a superior lord.]

[Footnote 380: God knows, etc. Why is this particularly true of a
republic such as the United States?]

[Footnote 381: The incomparable advantage of animal spirits. Why does
Emerson regard this as of such importance? In his journals he
frequently comments on his own lack of animal spirits, and says that
it unfits him for general society and for action.]

[Footnote 382: The sense of power. "I like people who can do things,"
wrote Emerson in his journal.]

[Footnote 383: Lundy's Lane. Give a full account of this battle in the
War of 1812.]

[Footnote 384: Men of the right Caesarian pattern. Men versatile as was
Julius Caesar, the Roman, famous as a general, statesman, orator, and

[Footnote 385: Timid maxim. Why does Emerson term this saying

[Footnote 386: Lord Falkland. Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland, was an
English politician who espoused the royalist side; he was killed in
battle in the Civil War.]

[Footnote 387: Saladin. A famous sultan of Egypt and Syria who lived
in the twelfth century. Scott describes him as possessing an ideal
knightly character and introduces him, disguised as a physician and
also as a wandering soldier in his historical romance, _The

[Footnote 388: Sapor. A Persian monarch of the fourth century who
defeated the Romans in battle.]

[Footnote 389: The Cid. See "Rodrigo," in _Heroism_, 313.]

[Footnote 390: Julius Caesar. See note on "Caesarian," 384.]

[Footnote 391: Scipio. (See note 205.)]

[Footnote 392: Alexander. Alexander, King of Macedon, surnamed the
Great. In the fourth century before Christ he made himself master of
the known world.]

[Footnote 393: Pericles. See note on _Heroism_, 352.]

[Footnote 394: Diogenes. (See note 267.)]

[Footnote 395: Socrates. (See note 187.)]

[Footnote 396: Epaminondas. (See note 329.)]

[Footnote 397: My contemporaries. Emerson probably had in mind, among
others, his friend, the gentle philosopher, Thoreau.]

[Footnote 398: Fine manners. "I think there is as much merit in
beautiful manners as in hard work," said Emerson in his journal.]

[Footnote 399: Napoleon. (See note 273.)]

[Footnote 400: Noblesse. Nobility. Why does Emerson use here the
French word?]

[Footnote 401: Faubourg St. Germain. A once fashionable quarter of
Paris, on the south bank of the Seine; it was long the headquarters of
the French royalists.]

[Footnote 402: Cortez. Consult a history of the United States for an
account of this Spanish soldier, the conqueror of Mexico.]

[Footnote 403: Nelson. Horatio Nelson, an English admiral, who won
many great naval victories and was killed in the battle of Trafalgar
in 1805.]

[Footnote 404: Mexico. The scene of Cortez's victories.]

[Footnote 405: Marengo. The scene of a battle in Italy in 1800, in
which Napoleon defeated the Austrians with a larger army and made
himself master of northern Italy.]

[Footnote 406: Trafalgar. A cape on the southern coast of Spain, the
scene of Nelson's last great victory, in which the allied French and
Spanish fleets were defeated.]

[Footnote 407: Mexico, Marengo, and Trafalgar. Is this the order in
which you would expect these words to occur? Why not?]

[Footnote 408: Estates of the realm. Orders or classes of people with
regard to political rights and powers. In modern times, the nobility,
the clergy, and the people are called "the three estates."]

[Footnote 409: Tournure. Figure; turn of dress,--and so of mind.]

[Footnote 410: Coventry. It is said that the people of Coventry, a
city in England, at one time so disliked soldiers that to send a
military man there meant to exclude him from social intercourse; hence
the expression "to send to Coventry" means to exclude from society.]

[Footnote 411: "If you could see Vich Ian Vohr with his tail on." Vich
Ian Vohr is a Scotch chieftain in Scott's novel, _Waverley_. One of
his dependents says to Waverley, the young English officer: "If you
Saxon duinhe-wassal [English gentleman] saw but the Chief with his
tail on." "With his tail on?" echoed Edward in some surprise.
"Yes--that is, with all his usual followers when he visits those of
the same rank." See _Waverley_, chapter 16.]

[Footnote 412: Mercuries. The word here means simply messengers.
According to Greek mythology, Mercury was the messenger of the gods.]

[Footnote 413: Herald's office. In England the Herald's College, or
College of Arms, is a royal corporation the chief business of which is
to grant armorial bearings, or coats of arms, and to trace and
preserve genealogies. What does Emerson mean by comparing certain
circles of society to this corporation?]

[Footnote 414: Amphitryon. Host; it came to have this meaning from an
incident in the story of Amphitryon, a character in Greek legend. At
one time Jupiter assumed the form of Amphitryon and gave a banquet.
The real Amphitryon came in and asserted that he was master of the
house. In the French play, founded on this story, the question is
settled by the assertion of the servants and guests that "he who gives
the feast is the host."]

[Footnote 415: Tuileries. An old royal residence in Paris which was
burned in 1871.]

[Footnote 416: Escurial, or escorial. A celebrated royal edifice near
Madrid in Spain.]

[Footnote 417: Hide ourselves as Adam, etc. See Genesis iii. 8.]

[Footnote 418: Cardinal Caprara. An Italian cardinal, Bishop of Milan,
who negotiated the famous concordat of 1801, an agreement between the
Church and State regulating the relations between civil and
ecclesiastical powers.]

[Footnote 419: The pope. Pope Pius VII.]

[Footnote 420: Madame de Stael. (See note 361.)]

[Footnote 421: Mr. Hazlitt. William Hazlitt, an English writer.]

[Footnote 422: Montaigne. A French essayist of the sixteenth century.]

[Footnote 423: The hint of tranquillity and self-poise. It is
suggested that Emerson had here in mind a favorite passage of the
German author, Richter, in which Richter says of the Greek statues:
"The repose not of weariness but of perfection looks from their eyes
and rests upon their lips."]

[Footnote 424: A Chinese etiquette. What does Emerson mean by this

[Footnote 425: Recall. In the first edition, Emerson had here the word
"signify." Which is the better word and why?]

[Footnote 426: Measure. What meaning has this word here? Is this the
sense in which we generally use it?]

[Footnote 427: Creole natures. What is a creole? What does Emerson
mean by "Creole natures"?]

[Footnote 428: Mr. Fox. Charles James Fox, an English statesman and
orator of the eighteenth century.]

[Footnote 429: Burke. Both Fox and Burke opposed the taxation of the
American colonies and sympathized with their resistance; it was on the
subject of the French Revolution that the two friends clashed.]

[Footnote 430: Sheridan. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, an Irish
dramatist, member of the famous Literary Club to which both Fox and
Burke belonged.]

[Footnote 431: Circe. According to Greek legend, Circe was a beautiful
enchantress. Men who partook of the draught she offered, were turned
to swine.]

[Footnote 432: Captain Symmes. The only real personage of this group.
He asserted that there was an opening to the interior of the earth
which was stocked with plants and animals.]

[Footnote 433: Clerisy. What word would we be more apt to use here?]

[Footnote 434: St. Michael's (Square). St. Michael's was an order
instituted by Louis XI. of France.]

[Footnote 435: Cologne water. A perfumed water first made at the city
of Cologne in Germany, from which it took its name.]

[Footnote 436: Poland. This kingdom of Europe was, in the eighteenth
century, taken possession of and divided among its powerful neighbors,
Russia, Prussia, and Austria.]

[Footnote 437: Philhellene. Friend of Greece.]

[Footnote 438: As Heaven and Earth are fairer far, etc. This passage
is quoted from Book II. of Keats' _Hyperion_.]

[Footnote 439: Waverley. The Waverley novels, a name applied to all of
Scott's novels from _Waverley_, the title of the first one.]

[Footnote 440: Robin Hood. An English outlaw and popular hero, the
subject of many ballads.]

[Footnote 441: Minerva. In Roman mythology, the goddess of wisdom
corresponding to the Greek Pallas-Athene.]

[Footnote 442: Juno. In Roman mythology, the wife of the supreme god

[Footnote 443: Polymnia. In Greek mythology, one of the nine muses who
presided over sacred poetry; the name is more usually written

[Footnote 444: Delphic Sibyl. In ancient mythology, the Sibyls were
certain women who possessed the power of prophecy. One of these who
made her abode at Delphi in Greece was called the Delphian, or
Delphic, sibyl.]

[Footnote 445: Hafiz. A Persian poet of the fourteenth century.]

[Footnote 446: Firdousi. A Persian poet of the tenth century.]

[Footnote 447: She was an elemental force, etc. Of this passage Oliver
Wendell Holmes said that Emerson "speaks of woman in language that
seems to pant for rhythm and rhyme."]

[Footnote 448: Byzantine. An ornate style of architecture developed in
the fourth and fifth centuries, marked especially by its use of gold
and color.]

[Footnote 449: Golden Book. In a book, called "the Golden Book," were
recorded the names of all the children of Venetian noblemen.]

[Footnote 450: Schiraz. A province of Persia famous especially for its
roses, wine, and nightingales, and described by the poets as a place
of ideal beauty.]

[Footnote 451: Osman. The name given by Emerson in his journal and
essays to his ideal man, one subject to the same conditions as

[Footnote 452: Koran. The sacred book of the Mohammedans.]

[Footnote 453: Jove. Jupiter, the supreme god of Roman mythology.]

[Footnote 454: Silenus. In Greek mythology, the leader of the satyrs.
This fable, which Emerson credits to tradition, was original.]

[Footnote 455: Her owl. The owl was the bird sacred to Minerva, the
goddess of wisdom.]


[Footnote 456: This essay was first printed in the periodical called
_The Dial_.

It was a part of Emerson's philosophic faith that there is no such
thing as giving,--everything that belongs to a man or that he ought to
have, will come to him. But in the ordinarily accepted sense of the
word, Emerson was a gracious giver and receiver. In his family the old
New England custom of New Year's presents was kept up to his last
days. His presents were accompanied with verses to be read before the
gift was opened.]

[Footnote 457: Into chancery. The phrase "in chancery," means in
litigation, as an estate, in a court of equity.]

[Footnote 458: Cocker. Spoil, indulge,--a word now little used.]

[Footnote 459: Fruits are acceptable gifts. Emerson took especial
pleasure in the beauty of fruits and the thought of how they had been
evolved from useless, insipid seed cases.]

[Footnote 460: To let the petitioner, etc. We can hardly imagine
Emerson's asking a gift or favor. He often quoted the words of Landor,
an English writer: "The highest price you can pay for a thing is to
ask for it."]

[Footnote 461: Furies. In Roman mythology, three goddesses who sought
out and punished evil-doers.]

[Footnote 462: A man's biography, etc. Emerson wrote in his journal:
"Long ago I wrote of _gifts_ and neglected a capital example. John
Thoreau, Jr. [who, like his brother Henry, was a lover of nature] one
day put a bluebird's box on my barn,--fifteen years ago it must
be,--and there it still is, with every summer a melodious family in it
adorning the place and singing its praises. There's a gift for you
which cost the giver no money, but nothing which he bought could have
been as good."]

[Footnote 463: Sin offering. Under the Hebrew law, a sacrifice or
offering for sin. See Leviticus xxiii. 19. Explain what Emerson means
here by the word.]

[Footnote 464: Blackmail. What is "blackmail"? How may Christmas
gifts, for instance, become a species of blackmail?]

[Footnote 465: Brother, if Jove, etc. In the Greek legend, Epimetheus
gives this advice to his brother Prometheus. The lines are taken from
a translation of _Works and Days_, by the Greek poet, Hesiod.]

[Footnote 466: Timons. Here used in the sense of wealthy givers.
Timon, the hero of Shakespeare's play, _Timon of Athens_, wasted his
fortune in lavish gifts and entertainments, and in his poverty was
exposed to the ingratitude of those whom he had served. He became
morose and died in miserable retirement.]

[Footnote 467: It is a very onerous business, etc. One of Emerson's
favorite passages in the essays of Montaigne, a French writer, was
this: "Oh, how am I obliged to Almighty God, who has been pleased that
I should immediately receive all I have from his bounty, and
particularly reserved all my obligation to himself! How instantly do I
beg of his holy compassion that I may never owe a real thanks to
anyone. O happy liberty in which I have thus far lived! May it
continue with me to the last. I endeavor to have no need of any one."

When Emerson, in his old age, had his house injured by fire, his
friends contributed funds to repair it and to send him to England. The
gift was proffered graciously and accepted gratefully.]

[Footnote 468: Buddhist. A follower of Buddha, a Hindoo religious
teacher of the fifth century before Christ.]


[Footnote 469: Nature. Emerson's first published volume was a little
book of essays, entitled _Nature_, which appeared in 1836. In the
years which followed, he thought more deeply on the subject and,
according to his custom, made notes about it and entries in his
journals. In the winter of 1843 he delivered a lecture on _Relation to
Nature_, and it is probable that this essay is built up from that. The
plan of it, however, had been long in his mind: In 1840 he wrote in
his journal: "I think I must do these eyes of mine the justice to
write a new chapter on Nature. This delight we all take in every show
of night or day or field or forest or sea or city, down to the lowest
particulars, is not without sequel, though we be as yet only wishers
and gazers, not at all knowing what we want. We are predominated here
as elsewhere by an upper wisdom, and resemble those great discoverers
who are haunted for years, sometimes from infancy, with a passion for
the fact, or class of facts in which the secret lies which they are
destined to unlock, and they let it not go until the blessing is won.
So these sunsets and starlights, these swamps and rocks, these bird
notes and animal forms off which we cannot get our eyes and ears, but
hover still, as moths round a lamp, are no doubt a Sanscrit cipher
covering the whole religious history of the universe, and presently we
shall read it off into action and character. The pastures are full of
ghosts for me, the morning woods full of angels."]

[Footnote 470: There are days, etc. The passage in Emerson's journal
is hardly less beautiful. Under date of October 30, 1841, he wrote:
"On this wonderful day when heaven and earth seem to glow with
magnificence, and all the wealth of all the elements is put under
contribution to make the world fine, as if Nature would indulge her
offspring, it seemed ungrateful to hide in the house. Are there not
dull days enough in the year for you to write and read in, that you
should waste this glittering season when Florida and Cuba seem to have
left their glittering seats and come to visit us with all their
shining hours, and almost we expect to see the jasmine and cactus
burst from the ground instead of these last gentians and asters which
have loitered to attend this latter glory of the year? All insects are
out, all birds come forth, the very cattle that lie on the ground seem
to have great thoughts, and Egypt and India look from their eyes."]

[Footnote 471: Halcyons. Halcyon days, ones of peace and tranquillity;
anciently, days of calm weather in mid-winter, when the halcyon, or
kingfisher, was supposed to brood. It was fabled that this bird laid
its eggs in a nest that floated on the sea, and that it charmed the
winds and waves to make them calm while it brooded.]

[Footnote 472: Indian Summer. Calm, dry, hazy weather which comes in
the autumn in America. The Century Dictionary says it was called
Indian Summer because the season was most marked in the sections of
the upper eastern Mississippi valley inhabited by Indians about the
time the term became current.]

[Footnote 473: Gabriel. One of the seven archangels. The Hebrew name
means "God is my strong one."]

[Footnote 474: Uriel. Another of the seven archangels; the name means
"Light of God."]

[Footnote 475: Converts all trees to wind-harps. Compare with this
passage the lines in Emerson's poem, _Woodnotes_:

   "And the countless leaves of the pines are strings
    Tuned to the lay the wood-god sings."


[Footnote 476: The village. Concord, Massachusetts. Emerson's home the
greater part of the time from 1832 till his death.]

[Footnote 477: I go with my friend, etc. With Henry Thoreau, the lover
of Nature.]

[Footnote 478: Our little river. The Concord river.]

[Footnote 479: Novitiate and probation. Explain the meaning of these
words, in the Roman Catholic Church. What does Emerson mean by them

[Footnote 480: Villegiatura. The Italian name for a season spent in
country pleasures.]

[Footnote 481: Hanging gardens. The hanging gardens of Babylon were
one of the seven wonders of the world.]

[Footnote 482: Versailles. A royal residence near Paris, with
beautiful formal gardens.]

[Footnote 483: Paphos. A beautiful city on the island of Cyprus, where
was situated a temple of Astarte, or Venus.]

[Footnote 484: Ctesiphon. One of the chief cities of ancient Persia,
the site of a magnificent royal palace.]

[Footnote 485: Notch Mountains. Probably the White Mountains near
Crawford Notch, a deep, narrow valley which is often called "The

[Footnote 486: AEolian harp. A stringed instrument from which sound is
drawn by the passing of the wind over its strings. It was named for
AEolus, the god of the winds, in Greek mythology.]

[Footnote 487: Dorian. Dorus was one of the four divisions of Greece:
the word is here used in a general sense for Grecian.]

[Footnote 488: Apollo. In Greek and Roman mythology, the sun god, who
presided over music, poetry, and healing.]

[Footnote 489: Diana. In Roman mythology, the goddess of the moon
devoted to the chase.]

[Footnote 490: Edens. Beautiful, sinless places,--like the garden of

[Footnote 491: Tempes. Places like the lovely valley of Tempe in
Thessaly, Greece.]

[Footnote 492: Como Lake. A lake of northern Italy, celebrated for its

[Footnote 493: Madeira Islands. Where are these islands, famous for
picturesque beauty and balmy atmosphere?]

[Footnote 494: Common. What is a common?]

[Footnote 495: Campagna. The plain near Rome.]

[Footnote 496: Dilettantism. Define this word and explain its use

[Footnote 497: "Wreaths" and "Flora's Chaplets." About the time that
Emerson was writing his essays, volumes of formal, artificial verses
were very fashionable, more as parlor ornaments than as literature.
Two such volumes were _A Wreath of Wild Flowers from New England_ and
_The Floral Offering_ by Mrs. Frances Osgood, a New England writer.]

[Footnote 498: Pan. In Greek mythology, the god of woods, fields,
flocks, and shepherds.]

[Footnote 499: The multitude of false cherubs, etc. Explain the
meaning of this sentence. If true money were valueless, would people
make false money?]

[Footnote 500: Proteus. In Greek mythology, a sea god who had the
power of assuming different shapes. If caught and held fast, however,
he was forced to assume his own shape and answer the questions put to

[Footnote 501: Mosaic ... Schemes. The conception of the world as
given in Genesis on which the law of Moses, the great Hebrew lawgiver,
was founded.]

[Footnote 502: Ptolemaic schemes. The system of geography and
astronomy taught in the second century by Ptolemy of Alexandria; it
was accepted till the sixteenth century, when the Copernican system
was established. Ptolemy believed that the sun, planets, and stars
revolve around the earth; Copernicus taught that the planets revolve
around the sun.]

[Footnote 503: Flora. In Roman mythology, the goddess of the spring
and of flowers.]

[Footnote 504: Fauna. In Roman mythology, the goddess of fields and
shepherds; she represents the fruitfulness of the earth.]

[Footnote 505: Ceres. The Roman goddess of grain and harvest,
corresponding to the Greek goddess, Demeter.]

[Footnote 506: Pomona. The Roman goddess of fruit trees and gardens.]

[Footnote 507: All duly arrive. Emerson deducts from nature the
doctrine of evolution. What is its teaching?]

[Footnote 508: Plato. (See note 36.)]

[Footnote 509: Himalaya Mountain chains. (See note 193.)]

[Footnote 510: Franklin. Give an account of Benjamin Franklin, the
famous American scientist and patriot. What did he prove about

[Footnote 511: Dalton. John Dalton was an English chemist who, about
the beginning of the nineteenth century, perfected the atomic theory,
that is, the theory that all chemical combinations take place in
certain ways between the atoms, or ultimate particles, of bodies.]

[Footnote 512: Davy. (See note 69.)]

[Footnote 513: Black. Joseph Black, a Scotch chemist who made valuable
discoveries about latent heat and carbon dioxide, or carbonic acid

[Footnote 514: The astronomers said, etc. Beginning with this passage,
several pages of this essay was published in 1844, under the title of
_Tantalus_, in the next to the last number of _The Dial_, which
Emerson edited.]

[Footnote 515: Centrifugal, centripetal. Define these words.]

[Footnote 516: Stoics. See "Stoicism," 331.]

[Footnote 517: Luther. (See note 188.)]

[Footnote 518: Jacob Behmen. A German mystic of the sixteenth century;
his name is usually written Boehme.]

[Footnote 519: George Fox. (See note 202.)]

[Footnote 520: James Naylor. An English religious enthusiast of the
seventeenth century; he was first a Puritan and later a Quaker.]

[Footnote 521: Operose. Laborious.]

[Footnote 522: Outskirt and far-off reflection, etc. Compare with this
passage Emerson's poem, _The Forerunners_.]

[Footnote 523: Oedipus. In Greek mythology, the King of Thebes who
solved the riddle of the Sphinx, a fabled monster.]

[Footnote 524: Prunella. A widely scattered plant, called self-heal,
because a decoction of its leaves and stems was, and to some extent
is, valued as an application to wounds. An editor comments on the fact
that during the last years of Emerson's life "the little blue
self-heal crept into the grass before his study window."]


[Footnote 525: Shakespeare; or the Poet is one of seven essays on
great men in various walks of life, published in 1850 under the title
of _Representative Men_. These essays were first delivered as lectures
in Boston in the winter of 1845, and were repeated two years later
before English audiences. They must have been especially interesting
to those Englishmen who had, seven years before, heard Emerson's
friend, Carlyle, deliver his six lectures on great men whom he
selected as representative ones. These lectures were published under
the title of _Heroes and Hero-Worship_. You should read the latter
part of Carlyle's lecture on _The Hero as Poet_ and compare what he
says about Shakespeare with Emerson's words. Both Emerson and Carlyle
reverenced the great English poet as "the master of mankind." Even in
serious New England, the plays of Shakespeare were found upon the
bookshelf beside religious tracts and doctrinal treatises. There the
boy Emerson found them and learned to love them, and the man Emerson
loved them but the more. It was as a record of personal experiences
that he wrote in his journal: "Shakespeare fills us with wonder the
first time we approach him. We go away, and work and think, for years,
and come again,--he astonishes us anew. Then, having drank deeply and
saturated us with his genius, we lose sight of him for another period
of years. By and by we return, and there he stands immeasurable as at
first. We have grown wiser, but only that we should see him wiser than
ever. He resembles a high mountain which the traveler sees in the
morning and thinks he shall quickly near it and pass it and leave it
behind. But he journeys all day till noon, till night. There still is
the dim mountain close by him, having scarce altered its bearings
since the morning light."]

[Footnote 526: Genius. Here instead of speaking as in _Friendship_,
see note 286, of the genius or spirit supposed to preside over each
man's life, Emerson mentions the guardian spirit of human kind.]

[Footnote 527: Shakespeare's youth, etc. It is impossible to
appreciate or enjoy this essay without having some clear general
information about the condition of the English people and English
literature in the glorious Elizabethan age in which Shakespeare lived.
Consult, for this information, some brief history of England and a
comprehensive English literature.]

[Footnote 528: Puritans. Strict Protestants who became so powerful in
England that in the time of the Commonwealth they controlled the
political and religious affairs of the country.]

[Footnote 529: Anglican Church. The Established Church of England; the
Episcopal church.]

[Footnote 530: Punch. The chief character in a puppet show, hence the
puppet show itself.]

[Footnote 531: Kyd, Marlowe, Greene, etc. For an account of these
dramatists consult a text book on English literature. The English
drama seems to have begun in the Middle Ages with what were called
Miracle plays, which were scenes from Bible history; about the same
time were performed the Mystery plays, which dramatized the lives of
saints. These were followed by the Moralities, plays in which were
personified abstract virtues and vices. The first step in the creation
of the regular drama was taken by Heywood, who composed some farcical
plays called Interludes. The people of the sixteenth century were fond
of pageants, shows in which classical personages were introduced, and
Masques, which gradually developed from pageants into dramas
accompanied with music. About the middle of the sixteenth century,
rose the English drama,--comedy, tragedy, and historical plays. The
chief among the group of dramatists who attained fame before
Shakespeare began to write were Kyd, Marlowe, Greene, and Peele. Ben
Jonson and Beaumont and Fletcher rank next to Shakespeare among his
contemporaries, and among the other dramatists of the period were
Chapman, Dekker, Webster, Heywood, Middleton, Ford, and Massinger.]

[Footnote 532: At the time when, etc. Probably about 1585.]

[Footnote 533: Tale of Troy. Drama founded on the Trojan war. The
subject of famous poems by Latin and Greek poets.]

[Footnote 534: Death of Julius Caesar. An account of the plots which
ended in the assassination of the great Roman general.]

[Footnote 535: Plutarch. See note on _Heroism_(264). Shakespeare, like
the earlier dramatists, drew freely on Plutarch's _Lives_ for

[Footnote 536: Brut. A poetical version of the legendary history of
Britain, by Layamon. Its hero is Brutus, a mythical King of Britain.]

[Footnote 537: Arthur. A British King of the sixth century, around
whose life and deeds so many legends have grown up that some
historians say he, too, was a myth. He is the center of the great
cycle of romances told in prose in Mallory's _Morte d'Arthur_ and in
poetry in Tennyson's _Idylls of the King_.]

[Footnote 538: The royal Henries. Among the dramas popular in
Shakespeare's day which he retouched or rewrote are the historical
plays. Henry IV., First and Second Parts; Henry V; Henry VI., First,
Second, and Third Parts; and Henry VIII.]

[Footnote 539: Italian tales. Italian literature was very popular in
Shakespeare's day, and authors drew freely from it for material,
especially from the _Decameron_, a famous collection of a hundred
tales, by Boccaccio, a poet of the fourteenth century.]

[Footnote 540: Spanish voyages. In the sixteenth century, Spain was
still a power upon the high seas, and the tales of her conquests and
treasures in the New World were like tales of romance.]

[Footnote 541: Prestige. Can you give an English equivalent for this
French word?]

[Footnote 542: Which no single genius, etc. In the same way, some
critics assure us, the poems credited to the Greek poet, Homer, were
built up by a number of poets.]

[Footnote 543: Malone. An Irish critic and scholar of the eighteenth
century, best known by his edition of Shakespeare's plays.]

[Footnote 544: Wolsey's Soliloquy. See Shakespeare's _Henry VIII._
III, 2. Cardinal Wolsey was prime minister of England in the reign of
Henry VIII.]

[Footnote 545: Scene with Cromwell. See _Henry VIII._ III, 2. Thomas
Cromwell was the son of an English blacksmith; he rose to be lord high
chamberlain of England in the reign of Henry VIII., but, incurring the
King's displeasure, was executed on a charge of treason.]

[Footnote 546: Account of the coronation. See _Henry VIII._ IV, 1.]

[Footnote 547: Compliment to Queen Elizabeth. See _Henry VIII._ V, 5.]

[Footnote 548: Bad rhythm. Too much importance must not be attached to
these matters in deciding authorship, as critics disagree about them.]

[Footnote 549: Value his memory, etc. The Greeks, in appreciation of
the value of memory to the poet, represented the Muses as the
daughters of Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory.]

[Footnote 550: Homer. A Greek poet to whom is assigned the authorship
of the two greatest Greek poems, the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_; he is
said to have lived about a thousand years before Christ.]

[Footnote 551: Chaucer. (See note 33.)]

[Footnote 552: Saadi. A Persian poet, supposed to have lived in the
thirteenth century. His best known poems are his odes.]

[Footnote 553: Presenting Thebes, etc. This quotation is from Milton's
poem, _Il Penseroso_. Milton here names the three most popular
subjects of Greek tragedy,--the story of Oedipus, the ill-fated King
of Thebes who slew his father; the tale of the descendants of Pelops,
King of Pisa, who seemed born to woe--Agamemnon was one of his
grandsons; the third subject was the tale of Troy and the heroes of
the Trojan war,--called "divine" because the Greeks represented even
the gods as taking part in the contest.]

[Footnote 554: Pope. (See note 88.)]

[Footnote 555: Dryden. (See note 35.)]

[Footnote 556: Chaucer is a huge borrower. Taine, the French critic,
says on this subject: "Chaucer was capable of seeking out in the old
common forest of the Middle Ages, stories and legends, to replant them
in his own soil and make them send out new shoots.... He has the right
and power of copying and translating because by dint of retouching he
impresses ... his original work. He recreates what he imitates."]

[Footnote 557: Lydgate. John Lydgate was an English poet who lived a
generation later than Chaucer; in his _Troy Book_ and other poems he
probably borrowed from the sources used by Chaucer; he called himself
"Chaucer's disciple."]

[Footnote 558: Caxton. William Caxton, the English author, more famous
as the first English printer, was not born until after Chaucer's
death. The work from which Emerson supposes the poet to have borrowed
Caxton's translation of _Recueil des Histoires de Troye_, the first
printed English book, appeared about 1474.]

[Footnote 559: Guido di Colonna. A Sicilian poet and historian of the
thirteenth century. Chaucer in his _House of Fame_ placed in his
vision "on a pillar higher than the rest, Homer and Livy, Dares the
Phrygian, Guido Colonna, Geoffrey of Monmouth, and the other
historians of the war of Troy."]

[Footnote 560: Dares Phrygius. A Latin account of the fall of Troy,
written about the fifth century, which pretends to be a translation of
a lost work on the fall of Troy by Dares, a Trojan priest mentioned in
Homer's _Iliad_.]

[Footnote 561: Ovid. A Roman poet who lived about the time of Christ,
whose best-known work is the _Metamorphoses_, founded on classical

[Footnote 562: Statius. A Roman poet of the first century after

[Footnote 563: Petrarch. An Italian poet of the fourteenth century.]

[Footnote 564: Boccaccio. An Italian novelist and poet of the
fourteenth century. See note on "Italian tales," 539. It is supposed
that the plan of the _Decameron_ suggested the similar but far
superior plan of Chaucer's _Canterbury Tales_.]

[Footnote 565: Provencal poets. The poets of Provence, a province of
the southeastern part of France. In the Middle Ages it was celebrated
for its lyric poets, called troubadours.]

[Footnote 566: Romaunt of the Rose, etc. Chaucer's _Romaunt of the
Rose_, written during the period of French influence, is an incomplete
and abbreviated translation of a French poem of the thirteenth
century, _Roman de la Rose_, the first part of which was written by
William of Loris and the latter by John of Meung, or Jean de Meung.]

[Footnote 567: Troilus and Creseide, etc. Chaucer ascribes the Italian
poem which he followed in his _Troilus and Creseide_ to an unknown
"Lollius of Urbino"; the source of the poem, however, is _Il
Filostrato_, by Boccaccio, the Italian poet already mentioned.
Chaucer's poem is far more than a translation; more than half is
entirely original, and it is a powerful poem, showing profound
knowledge of the Italian poets, whose influence with him superseded
the French poets.]

[Footnote 568: The Cock and the Fox. _The Nun's Priest's Tale_ in the
_Canterbury Tales_ was an original treatment of the _Roman de Renart_,
of Marie of France, a French poet of the twelfth century.]

[Footnote 569: House of Fame, etc. The plan of the _House of Fame_,
written during the period of Chaucer's Italian influence, shows the
influence of Dante; the general idea of the poem is from Ovid, the
Roman poet.]

[Footnote 570: Gower. John Gower was an English poet, Chaucer's
contemporary and friend; the two poets went to the same sources for
poetic materials, but Chaucer made no such use of Gower's works as we
would infer from this passage. Emerson relied on his memory for facts,
and hence made mistakes, as here in the instances of Lydgate, Caxton,
and Gower.]

[Footnote 571: Westminster, Washington. What legislative body
assembles at Westminster Palace, London? What at Washington?]

[Footnote 572: Sir Robert Peel. An English statesman who died in 1850,
not long after _Representative Men_ was published.]

[Footnote 573: Webster. Daniel Webster, an American statesman and
orator who was living when this essay was written.]

[Footnote 574: Locke. John Locke. (See note 18.)]

[Footnote 575: Rousseau. Jean Jacques Rousseau, a French philosopher
of the eighteenth century.]

[Footnote 576: Homer. (See note 550.)]

[Footnote 577: Menn. Menn, or Mann, was in Sanscrit one of fourteen
legendary beings; the one referred to by Emerson, Mann Vaivasvata was
supposed to be the author of the laws of Mann, a collection made about
the second century.]

[Footnote 578: Saadi or Sadi. (See note 552.)]

[Footnote 579: Milton. Of this great English poet and prose writer of
the seventeenth century, Emerson says: "No man can be named whose mind
still acts on the cultivated intellect of England and America with an
energy comparable to that of Milton. As a poet Shakespeare undoubtedly
transcends and far surpasses him in his popularity with foreign
nations: but Shakespeare is a voice merely: who and what he was that
sang, that sings, we know not."]

[Footnote 580: Delphi. Here, source of prophecy. Delphi was a city in
Greece, where was the oracle of Apollo, the most famous of the oracles
of antiquity.]

[Footnote 581: Our English Bible. The version made in the reign of
King James I. by forty-seven learned divines is a monument of noble

[Footnote 582: Liturgy. An appointed form of worship used in a
Christian church,--here, specifically, the service of the Episcopal
church. Emerson's mother had been brought up in that church, and
though she attended her husband's church, she always loved and read
her Episcopal prayer book.]

[Footnote 583: Grotius. Hugo Grotius was a Dutch jurist, statesman,
theologian, and poet of the seventeenth century.]

[Footnote 584: Rabbinical forms. The forms used by the rabbis, Jewish
doctors or expounders of the law.]

[Footnote 585: Common law. In a general sense, the system of law
derived from England, in general use among English-speaking people.]

[Footnote 586: Vedas. The sacred books of the Brahmins.]

[Footnote 587: AEsop's Fables. Fables ascribed to AEsop, a Greek slave
who lived in the sixth century before Christ.]

[Footnote 588: Pilpay, or Bidpai. Indian sage to whom were ascribed
some fables. From an Arabic translation, these passed into European
languages and were used by La Fontaine, the French fabulist.]

[Footnote 589: Arabian Nights. _The Arabian Nights' Entertainment or A
Thousand and One Nights_ is a collection of Oriental tales, the plan
and name of which are very ancient.]

[Footnote 590: Cid. _The Romances of the Cid_, the story of the
Spanish national hero, mentioned in note on _Heroism_139:5, was
written about the thirteenth century by an unknown author; it supplied
much of the material for two Spanish chronicles and Spanish and French
tragedies written later on the same subject.]

[Footnote 591: Iliad. The poem in which the Greek, poet, Homer,
describes the siege and fall of Troy. Emerson here expresses the view
adopted by many scholars that it was the work, not of one, but of many

[Footnote 592: Robin Hood. The ballads about Robin Hood, an English
outlaw and popular hero of the twelfth century.]

[Footnote 593: Scottish Minstrelsy. _The Minstrelsy of the Scottish
Border_, a collection of original and collected poems, published by
Sir Walter Scott in 1802.]

[Footnote 594: Shakespeare Society. The Shakespeare Society, founded
in 1841, was dissolved in 1853. In 1874 The New Shakespeare Society
was founded.]

[Footnote 595: Mysteries. See "Kyd, Marlowe, etc." 531.]

[Footnote 596: Ferrex and Porrex, or Gorboduc. The first regular
English tragedy, by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, printed in

[Footnote 597: Gammer Gurtor's Needle. One of the first English
comedies, written by Bishop Still and printed in 1575.]

[Footnote 598: Whether the boy Shakespeare poached, etc. For a fuller
account of the facts of Shakespeare's life, of which some traditions
and facts are mentioned here, consult some good biography of the

[Footnote 599: Queen Elizabeth. Dining her reign, 1558-1603, the
English drama rose and attained its height, and there was produced a
prose literature hardly inferior to the poetic.]

[Footnote 600: King James. King James VI. of Scotland and I. of
England who was Elizabeth's kinsman and successor; he reigned in
England from 1603 to 1625.]

[Footnote 601: Essexes. Walter Devereux was a brave English gentleman
whom Elizabeth made Earl of Essex in 1572. His son Robert, the second
Earl of Essex, was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth's.]

[Footnote 602: Leicester. The Earl of Leicester, famous in
Shakespeare's time, was Robert Dudley, an English courtier,
politician, and general, the favorite of Queen Elizabeth.]

[Footnote 603: Burleighs or Burghleys: William Cecil, baron of
Burghley, was an English statesman, who, for forty years, was
Elizabeth's chief minister.]

[Footnote 604: Buckinghams. George Villiers, the first duke of
Buckingham, was an English courtier and politician, a favorite of
James I. and Charles I.]

[Footnote 605: Tudor dynasty. The English dynasty of sovereigns
descended on the male side from Owen Tudor. It began with Henry VII.
and ended with Elizabeth.]

[Footnote 606: Bacon. Consult English literature and history for an
account of the great statesman and author, Francis Bacon, "the wisest,
brightest, meanest of mankind."]

[Footnote 607: Ben Jonson, etc. In his _Timber or Discoveries_, Ben
Jonson, a famous classical dramatist contemporary with Shakespeare,
says: "I loved the man and do honor his memory on this side idolatry
as much as any. He was indeed honest and of an open and free nature:
had an excellent fancy; brave notions and gentle expressions: wherein
he flowed with that facility that sometimes it was necessary he should
be stopped.... His wit was in his own power; would the rule of it had
been so, too. Many times he fell into those things could not escape
laughter.... But he redeemed his vices with his virtues. There was
ever more in him to be praised than to be pardoned."]

[Footnote 608: Sir Henry Wotton. An English diplomatist and author of
wide culture.]

[Footnote 609: The following persons, etc. The persons enumerated were
all people of note of the seventeenth century. Sir Philip Sidney, Earl
of Essex, Lord Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh, John Milton, Sir Henry Vane,
Isaac Walton, Dr. John Donne, Abraham Cowley, Charles Cotton, John
Pym, and John Hales were Englishmen, scholars, statesmen, and authors.
Theodore Beza was a French theologian; Isaac Casaubon was a
French-Swiss scholar; Roberto Berlarmine was an Italian cardinal;
Johann Kepler was a German astronomer; Francis Vieta was a French
mathematician; Albericus Gentilis was an Italian jurist; Paul Sarpi
was an Italian historian; Arminius was a Dutch theologian.]

[Footnote 610: Many others whom doubtless, etc. Emerson here
enumerates some famous English authors of the same period, not
mentioned in the preceeding list.]

[Footnote 611: Pericles. See note on _Heroism_, 352.]

[Footnote 612: Lessing. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, a German critic and
poet of the eighteenth century.]

[Footnote 613: Wieland. Christopher Martin Wieland was a German
contemporary of Lessing's, who made a prose translation into German of
Shakespeare's plays.]

[Footnote 614: Schlegel. August Wilhelm von Schlegel, a German critic
and poet, who about the first of the nineteenth century translated
some of Shakespeare's plays into classical German.]

[Footnote 615: Hamlet. The hero of Shakespeare's play of the same

[Footnote 616: Coleridge. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, an English poet,
author of critical lectures and notes on Shakespeare.]

[Footnote 617: Goethe. (See note 85.)]

[Footnote 618: Blackfriar's Theater. A famous London theater in which
nearly all the great dramas of the Elizabethan age were performed.]

[Footnote 619: Stratford. Stratford-on-Avon, a little town in
Warwickshire, England, where Shakespeare was born and where he spent
his last years.]

[Footnote 620: Macbeth. One of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies,
written about 1606.]

[Footnote 621: Malone, Warburton, Dyce, and Collier. English scholars
of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who edited the works of

[Footnote 622: Covent Garden, Drury Lane, the Park, and Tremont: The
leading London theaters in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.]

[Footnote 623: Betterton, Garrick, Kemble, Kean, and Macready, famous
British actors of the Shakespearian parts.]

[Footnote 624: The Hamlet of a famed performer, etc. Macready. Emerson
said to a friend: "I see you are one of the happy mortals who are
capable of being carried away by an actor of Shakespeare. Now,
whenever I visit the theater to witness the performance of one of his
dramas, I am carried away by the poet."]

[Footnote 625: What may this mean, etc. _Hamlet_, I. 4.]

[Footnote 626: Midsummer Night's Dream. One of Shakespeare's plays.]

[Footnote 627: The forest of Arden. In which is laid, the scene of
Shakespeare's play, _As You Like It_.]

[Footnote 628: The nimble air of Scone Castle. It was of the air of
Inverness, not of Scone, that "the air nimbly and sweetly recommends
itself unto our gentle senses."--_Macbeth_, I. 6.]

[Footnote 629: Portia's villa. See the moonlight scene, _Merchant of
Venice_, V. 1.]

[Footnote 630: The antres vost, etc. See _Othello_, I. 3. "Antres" is
an old word, meaning caves, caverns.]

[Footnote 631: Cyclopean architecture. In Greek mythology, the Cyclops
were a race of giants. The term 'Cyclopean' is applied here to the
architecture of Egypt and India, because of the majestic size of the
buildings, and the immense size of the stones used, as if it would
require giants to perform such works.]

[Footnote 632: Phidian sculpture. Phidias was a famous Greek sculptor
who lived in the age of Pericles and beautified Athens with his

[Footnote 633: Gothic minsters. Churches or cathedrals, built in the
Gothic, or pointed, style of architecture which prevailed during the
Middle Ages; it owed nothing to the Goths, and this term was
originally used in reproach, in the sense of "barbarous."]

[Footnote 634: The Italian painting. In Italy during the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries pictorial art was carried to a degree of
perfection unknown in any other time or country.]

[Footnote 635: Ballads of Spain and Scotland. The old ballads of these
countries are noted for beauty and spirit.]

[Footnote 636: Tripod. Define this word, and explain its
appropriateness here.]

[Footnote 637: Aubrey. John Aubrey, an English antiquarian of the
seventeenth century.]

[Footnote 638: Rowe. Nicholas Rowe, an English author of the
seventeenth century, who wrote a biography of Shakespeare.]

[Footnote 639: Timon. See note on _Gifts_, 466.]

[Footnote 640: Warwick. An English politician and commander of the
fifteenth century, called "the King Maker." He appears in
Shakespeare's plays, _Henry IV._, _V._, and _VI._]

[Footnote 641: Antonio. The Venetian Merchant in Shakespeare's play,
_The Merchant of Venice_.]

[Footnote 642: Talma. Francois Joseph Talma was a French tragic actor,
to whom Napoleon showed favor.]

[Footnote 643: An omnipresent humanity, etc. See what Carlyle has to
say on this subject in his _Hero as Poet_.]

[Footnote 644: Daguerre. Louis Jacques Daguerre, a French painter, one
of the inventors of the daguerreotype process, by means of which an
image is fixed on a metal plate by the chemical action of light.]

[Footnote 645: Euphuism. The word here has rather the force of
euphemism, an entirely different word. Euphuism was an affected ornate
style of expression, so called from _Euphues_, by John Lyly, a
sixteenth century master of that style.]

[Footnote 646: Epicurus. A Greek philosopher of the third century
before Christ. He was the founder of the Epicurean school of
philosophy which taught that pleasure should be man's chief aim and
that the highest pleasure is freedom.]

[Footnote 647: Dante. (See note 258.)]

[Footnote 648: Master of the revels, etc. Emerson always expressed
thankfulness for "the spirit of joy which Shakespeare had shed over
the universe." See what Carlyle says in _The Hero as Poet_, about
Shakespeare's "mirthfulness and love of laughter."]

[Footnote 649: Koran. The Sacred book of the Mohammedans.]

[Footnote 650: Twelfth Night, etc. The names of three bright, merry,
or serene plays by Shakespeare.]

[Footnote 651: Egyptian verdict. Emerson used Egyptian probably in the
sense of "gipsy." He compares such opinions to the fortunes told by
the gipsies.]

[Footnote 652: Tasso. An Italian poet of the sixteenth century.]

[Footnote 653: Cervantes. A Spanish poet and romancer of the sixteenth
century, the author of _Don Quixote_.]

[Footnote 654: Israelite. Such Hebrew prophets as Isaiah and

[Footnote 655: German. Such as Luther.]

[Footnote 656: Swede. Such as Swedenborg, the mystic philosopher of
the eighteenth century of whom Emerson had already written in
_Representative Men_.]

[Footnote 657: A pilgrim's progress. As described by John Bunyan, the
English writer, in his famous _Pilgrim's Progress_.]

[Footnote 658: Doleful histories of Adam's fall, etc. The subject of
_Paradise Lost,_ the great poem by John Milton.]

[Footnote 659: With doomsdays and purgatorial, etc. As described by
Dante in his _Divine Commedia_, an epic about hell, purgatory, and


[Footnote 660: The essay on _Prudence_ was given as a lecture in
the course on _Human Culture_, in the winter of 1837-8. It was
published in the first series of _Essays_, which appeared in 1841.]

[Footnote 661: Lubricity. The word means literally the state or
quality of being slippery; Emerson uses it several times, in its
derived sense of "instability."]

[Footnote 662: Love and Friendship. The subjects of the two essays
preceding _Prudence_, in the volume of 1841.]

[Footnote 663: The world is filled with the proverbs, etc. Compare
with this passage Emerson's words in _Compensation_ on "the flights of
proverbs, whose teaching is as true and as omnipresent as that of
birds and flies."]

[Footnote 664: A good wheel or pin. That is, a part of a machine.]

[Footnote 665: The law of polarity. Having two opposite poles, the
properties of the one of which are the opposite of the other.]

[Footnote 666: Summer will have its flies. Emerson discoursed
with philosophic calm about the impediments and disagreeableness which
beset every path; he also accepted them with serenity when he
encountered them in his daily life.]

[Footnote 667: The inhabitants of the climates, etc. As a
northerner, Emerson naturally felt that the advantage and superiority
were with his own section. He expressed in his poems _Voluntaries_ and
_Mayday_ views similar to those declared here.]

[Footnote 668: Peninsular campaign. Emerson here refers to
the military operations carried on from 1808 to 1814 in Portugal,
Spain, and southern France against the French, by the British,
Spanish, and Portuguese forces commanded by Wellington. What was the
"Peninsular campaign" in American history?]

[Footnote 669: Dr. Johnson is reported to have said, etc. Dr.
Samuel Johnson was an eminent English scholar of the eighteenth
century. In this, as in many other instances, Emerson quotes from his
memory instead of from the book. The words of Dr. Johnson, as reported
by his biographer Boswell, are: "Accustom your children constantly to
this; if a thing happened at one window, and they, when relating it,
say it happened at another, do not let it pass, but instantly check
them; you do not know where deviation from truth will end."]

[Footnote 670: Rifle. A local name in England and New England
for an instrument, on the order of a whetstone, used for sharpening
scythes; it is made of wood, covered with fine sand or emery.]

[Footnote 671: Last grand duke of Weimar. Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach is a
grand duchy of Germany. The grand duke referred to was Charles
Augustus, who died in 1828. He was the friend and patron of the great
German authors, Goethe, Schiller, Herder, and Wieland.]

[Footnote 672: The Raphael in the Dresden gallery. The Sistine
Madonna, the most famous picture of the great Italian artist,

[Footnote 673: Call a spade a spade. Plutarch, the Greek historian,
said, "These Macedonians ... call a spade a spade."]

[Footnote 674: Parts. A favorite eighteenth century term for
abilities, talents.]

[Footnote 675: We have found out, etc. Emerson always insisted that
morals and intellect should be united. He urged that power and
insight are lessened by shortcomings in morals.]

[Footnote 676: Goethe's Tasso. A play by the German poet
Goethe, founded on the belief that the imprisonment of Tasso was due
to his aspiration to the hand of Leonora d'Este, sister of the duke of
Ferrara. Tasso was a famous Italian poet of the seventeenth century.]

[Footnote 677: Richard III. An English king, the last of the
Plantagenet line, the hero--or villain--of Shakespeare's historical
play, Richard III.]

[Footnote 678: Bifold. Give a simpler word that means the same.]

[Footnote 679: Caesar. Why is Caesar the great Roman ruler, given as a
type of greatness?]

[Footnote 680: Job. Why is Job, the hero of the Old Testament book of
the same name, given as a type of misery?]

[Footnote 681: Poor Richard. _Poor Richard's Almanac_,
published (1732-1757) by Benjamin Franklin was a collection of maxims
inculcating prudence and thrift. These were given as the sayings of
"Poor Richard."]

[Footnote 682: State Street. A street in Boston, Massachusetts, noted
as a financial center.]

[Footnote 683: Stick in a tree between whiles, etc. "Jock, when ye hae
naething else to do, ye may be aye sticking in a tree; it will be
growing, Jock, when ye're sleeping."--Scott's _Heart of Midlothian_.
It is said that these were the words of a dying Scotchman to his son.]

[Footnote 684: Minor virtues. Emerson suggests that punctuality and
regard for a promise are two of these. Can you name others?]

[Footnote 685: The Latin proverb says, etc. This is quoted from
Tacitus, the famous Roman historian.]

[Footnote 686: If he set out to contend, etc. In contention,
Emerson holds, the best men would lose their characteristic virtues,
--the fearless apostle Paul, his devotion to truth; the gentle
disciple John, his loving charity.]

[Footnote 687: Though your views are in straight antagonism, &c. This
was Emerson's own method, and by it he won a courteous hearing from
those to whom his views were most objectionable.]

[Footnote 688: Consuetudes. Give a simpler word that has the same

[Footnote 689: Begin where we will, etc. Explain what Emerson means by
this expression.]


[Footnote 690: This essay first appeared in the first series of
_Essays_, published in 1841. Unlike most of the other essays in the
volume, no earlier form of it exists, and it was probably not
delivered first as a lecture.

Dr. Richard Garnett says in his _Life of Emerson_: "The object of this
fine essay quaintly entitled _Circles_ is to reconcile this rigidity
of unalterable law with the fact of human progress. Compensation
illustrates one property of a circle, which always returns to the
point where it began, but it is no less true that around every circle
another can be drawn.... Emerson followed his own counsel; he always
keeps a reserve of power. His theory of _Circles_ reappears without
the least verbal indebtedness to himself in the splendid essay on

[Footnote 691: St. Augustine. A celebrated father of the
Latin church, who flourished in the fourth century. His most famous
work is his _Confessions_, an autobiographical volume of religious

[Footnote 692: Another dawn risen on mid-noon. "Another morn has risen
on mid-noon." Milton, _Paradise Lost_, Book V.]

[Footnote 693: Greek sculpture. The greatest development of
the art of sculpture that the world has ever known was that which took
place in Greece, with Athens as the center, in the fifth century
before Christ. The masterpieces which remain are the models on which
modern art formed itself.]

[Footnote 694: Greek letters. In literature--in drama, philosophy and
history--Greece attained an excellence as signal as in art. Emerson as
a scholar, felt that the literature of Greece was more permanent than
its art. Would an artist be apt to take this view?]

[Footnote 695: New arts destroy the old, etc. Tell the ways in which
the improvements and inventions mentioned by Emerson have been
superseded by others; give the reasons. Mention other similar cases of
more recent date.]

[Footnote 696: The life of man is a self-evolving circle, etc. "Throw a
stone into the stream, and the circles that propagate themselves are the
beautiful type of all influence."--EMERSON, in _Nature_.]

[Footnote 697: The heart refuses to be imprisoned. It is a
superstition current in many countries that an evil spirit cannot
escape from a circle drawn round it.]

[Footnote 698: Crass. Gross; coarse.]

[Footnote 699: The continual effort to raise himself above
himself, etc.

    "Unless above himself he can
    Erect himself, how poor a thing is man!"
                                 SAMUEL DANIEL.


[Footnote 700: If he were high enough, etc.

    Have I a lover
    Who is noble and free?--
    I would he were nobler
    Than to love me.--EMERSON, _The Sphinx._


[Footnote 701: Aristotle and Plato. Plato was a famous Greek
philosopher who flourished in the fourth century before Christ. He was
the disciple of Socrates, the teacher of Aristotle, and the founder of
the academic school of philosophy. His exposition of idealism was
founded on the teachings of Socrates. Aristotle, another famous Greek
philosopher, was for twenty years the pupil of Plato. He founded the
peripatetic school of philosophy, and his writing dealt with all the
then known branches of science.]

[Footnote 702: Berkeley. George Berkeley was a British clergyman of
the eighteenth century. He was the author of works on philosophy which
are marked by extreme subjective idealism.]

[Footnote 703: Termini. Boundaries or marks to indicate boundaries. In
Roman mythology, Terminus was the god who presided over boundaries or
landmarks. He is represented with a human head, but without feet or
arms,--to indicate that he never moved from his place.]

[Footnote 704: Pentecost. One of three great Jewish festivals. On the
day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the infant Christian
church, with the gift of tongues. See Acts ii. 1-20.]

[Footnote 705: Hodiernal. Belonging to our present day.]

[Footnote 706: Punic. Of Carthage, a famous ancient city, and
state of northern Africa. Carthage was the rival of Rome, but was,
after long warfare, overcome in the second century before Christ.]

[Footnote 707: In like manner, etc. Emerson always urged that in order
to get the best from all, one must pass from affairs to thought,
society to solitude, books to nature.

    "See thou bring not to field or stone
       The fancies found in books;
     Leave authors' eyes, and fetch your own,
       To brave the landscape's look."--EMERSON,


[Footnote 708: Petrarch. (See note 563.)]

[Footnote 709: Ariosto. A famous Italian author of the sixteenth
century, who wrote comedies, satires, and a metrical romance, _Orlando

[Footnote 710: "Then shall also the Son", etc. See 1 Corinthians xv.
28: Does Emerson quote the passage verbatim?]

[Footnote 711: These manifold tenacious qualities, etc. It is
remarked of Emerson that the idea of the symbolism of nature which he
received from Plato, was the source of much of his pleasure in
Swedenborg, the Swedish mystic philosopher. Emerson says in his volume
on _Nature_: "The noblest ministry of nature is to stand as an
apparition of God."]

[Footnote 712: "Forgive his crimes," etc. This is quoted from _Night
Thoughts_ by the English didactic poet, Edward Young.]

[Footnote 713: Pyrrhonism. A doctrine held by a follower of Pyrrho, a
Greek philosopher of the third century before Christ, who founded the
sceptical school. He taught that it is impossible to attain truth, and
that men should be indifferent to all external circumstances.]

[Footnote 714: I own I am gladdened, etc. Emerson always held fast to
the consoling thought that there was no evil without good, none out of
which Good did not or could not come.]

[Footnote 715: Sempiternal. Everlasting; eternal.]

[Footnote 716: Oliver Cromwell. An Englishman of the middle classes
who became the military and civil leader of the English Revolution of
the seventeenth century. He refused the title of king; but as Lord
Protector of the English commonwealth, he exercised royal power.]

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